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Contact 5: No screening taking place for some fliers from New York area

Boca Raton Airport has no airport traveler forms
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Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 06:00:11-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A Contact 5 investigation has found that some fliers from COVID-19 hot spots are not being screened when arriving in the Palm Beach County area, even though a week has passed since Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order requiring that take place.

"There is no screening taking place," said Clara Bennett, the Executive Director of Boca Raton Airport. "We have not received that directive yet from the local health department or the state DOT."

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on March 24, requiring all airline passengers from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut be screened upon arrival in Florida and ordering them to self-quarantine for either 14 days or their duration in Florida, whichever is longer.

Gov. DeSantis issued another executive order on Saturday adding Louisiana to the list.

On Friday, the Florida Department of Health and the National Guard began screening passengers arriving from those hot spots at Palm Beach International Airport.

The airline industry and airports have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Bennett said flight activity is down 75 to 80 percent, adding that "it's been very challenging."

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus | We're Open South Florida

Contact 5 reviewed records from FlightAware.com for incoming flights from the Tri-State area to airports in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. We found dozens of flights since March 25, the day after Gov. DeSantis issued the executive order.

The Boca Raton Airport isn't just awaiting guidance from the state.

"We do not have the [airport traveler] forms available," Bennett told Contact 5.

Passengers flying commercial airlines from the Tri-State area, as well as those flying private jets into other smaller hubs, are now required to complete this form before arrival.

WPTV contacted the Florida Department of Transportation for a comment on this story, and the agency said they continue to work on implementation.

"We're prepared to do whatever is required of us," said Bennett, adding that she's in daily communication with the state as the governor's executive order continues to be phased in.

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