Travelers From West Africa Must Enter US Through Only 5 Airports to Help Stop Ebola Spread

PHOTO: The international arrivals terminal is viewed at New Yorks John F. Kennedy Airport on Oct. 11, 2014 in New York City.PlaySpencer Platt/Getty Images
WATCH CDC Reveals Strict New Guidelines in Fight Against Ebola

All U.S.-bound travelers coming from West African countries where there have been Ebola outbreaks will have to fly into one of the five American airports, the Department of Homeland Security announced today.

Specifically, beginning on Wednesday, any passengers arriving in the United States who started their travel in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will be required to fly into airports in JFK International Airport in New York, Newark International Airport in New Jersey, Dulles International Airport outside Washington, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta or O’Hare Internal Airport in Chicago.

All five hubs had already established “enhanced screening and additional resources” for extra screening of passengers believed to have come from Ebola-stricken areas, according to DHS.

“We are continually evaluating whether additional restrictions or added screening and precautionary measures are necessary to protect the American people and will act accordingly,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

The five airports where certain passengers will now be required to arrive in the United States account for about 94 percent of travelers flying into the country from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to Johnson.

Johnson said his department is “working closely” with airlines to implement the new travel restrictions and minimize “travel disruption,” but he said any passengers who need to rebook their travel should contact the airlines directly.

A top lawmaker from New York, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, called the move “a good and effective step towards tightening the net and further protecting our citizens, saying in a statement that it “provides an added layer of protection against Ebola entering our country."

The new restrictions come one day after Johnson spoke with Customs and Border Protection officers serving at the five airports.

“I reminded our CBP officers to be vigilant in their efforts, and encouraged them to set a calm example for an American public nervous about Ebola,” Johnson said.