LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Global Entry Enrollment Center at LAX will reopen Tuesday for the first time since it was shut down March 19 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Global Entry program allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Applicants must schedule enrollment center interviews in advance by logging into their accounts on the Trusted Traveler Programs website.
Several changes have been implemented during the closure to help slow the spread of COVID-19. U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel will now be required to wear-agency approved masks when interacting with the public, and all applicants and visitors at enrollment centers will also be required to cover their faces in compliance with CDC, state and local mandates.
The center will also limit appointments — which will be staggered — eliminate sign-in sheets and other high-touch areas, and frequently disinfect service counters. Plastic barriers and/or face shields will be used at service counters, and social distancing will also be enforced. The agency says specific health and safety measures may vary among enrollment centers based on the physical layout of the facility.
All Trusted Traveler Program applicants will still be required to submit fingerprints during their interview to complete the enrollment process.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Customs and Border Protection have also increased the use of biometric facial comparison technology in the push for touchless security measures.
“Travelers are a lot more cognizant about what they touch and who they’ve provided their travel documents or boarding pass to,” LaFonda Sutton-Burke, Customs and Border Protection area port director of LAX, said in a statement. “There are hygienic benefits to reducing traveler contact points, and biometric information helps ensure an efficient, safe and secure travel experience.”
For the past month, Customs and Border Protection and its partner airlines have deployed Biometric Exit on select flights arriving and departing LAX. International travelers arriving and departing LAX pause at their gates for a photo, and the biometric facial matching services matches the new photo of the traveler to the small gallery of high-quality images that have already been provided to the government, such as passport and visa photos.
Customs and Border Protection says the new photos of U.S. citizens from biometric entry and exit are deleted within 12 hours, but photos of foreign nationals are stored in a secure Department of Homeland Security system.