HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaiian Airlines has announced enhanced policy changes requiring travelers to cover their faces with masks or cloths to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The airline made the announcement Friday and the policy is expected to go into effect May 8.

Passengers must wear masks from check-in at the airport, while riding on the plane up until disembarking at their arrival destination, company officials said.

Young children who are unable to keep a face covering on, or passengers with certain medical conditions that would prevent the use of a face covering are exempt from the policy.

Airport employees and flight attendants already wear masks, officials said.

Hawaiian Airlines arrives at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
Hawaiian Airlines will soon require passengers to wear face masks during flights and at the airports. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

“Taking care of our guests and employees has always been our primary focus, and these new health measures will help us maintain a safe travel experience, from our lobbies to our cabins, as Hawaii continues to make progress in containing COVID-19,” airline CEO Peter Ingram told Hawaii News Now.

He added: “We appreciate our guests’ understanding and flexibility as we adapt our operations with their well-being guiding every decision we make.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

Face mask requirements are one of many measures Hawaiian Airlines has taken amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, the airline began electrostatic spraying of cabins with EPA-approved, hospital-grade disinfectants to coat hidden and hard-to-reach surfaces, the Star-Advertiser reported.

Other measures include providing sanitizing wipes, social distancing at check-in and during boarding by monitoring lines and on flights by blocking middle seats, officials said.

Families and passengers who prefer to remain seated together should contact the airline ahead of the flight or consult with an airport agent and the airline will work to accommodate requests, company officials said.

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