WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Instead of being greeted by family and friends, air travelers arriving at T.F. Green International Airport Tuesday were greeted by the National Guard ─ and were instructed to self-quarantine for two weeks.
The new procedures come one day after Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order mandating that everyone traveling Rhode Island from elsewhere in the United States to self-quarantine for 14 days as the state works to stem the spread of COVID-19. The order does not specify between those who live in Rhode Island versus those are visiting.
Raimondo said roughly half of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island have stemmed from domestic travel, which further enforced her decision.
The policy began at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, but was not enacted until 10 a.m., when the first flight touched down from Orlando, Fla.
As travelers make their way out of the terminal and down the escalator, National Guard members are waiting by rows of tables.
Travelers are ultimately questioned about their travel history and overall health, which is then passed on to the Rhode Island Department of Health, before being provided pamphlets on best practices for self-quarantine.
The most important part of the National Guard’s job, however, is to comfort travelers during these unprecedented times, according to National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Jordan St. Onge.
“We’re the first thing they see, so it can be a little nerve-wracking I’m sure,” St. Onge said.