Virus Scare Briefly Closes New York ARTCC

Daniel Fowler
March 22, 2020

Several U.S. airlines cancelled flights this week after a series of COVID-19 cases involving air traffic control personnel.

In an alert posted online Saturday, the agency advised air traffic controllers to "stop all departures" to Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark and other airports in the region.

In a statement, the FAA says the temporary closure and now traffic limitation came after a trainee at New York ARTCC tested positive for Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The airports are "now able to accept arrivals", the FAA said in its updated advisory. The unidentified trainee hadn't been at the facility since March 17 and officials were working to determine how many people might have interacted with them. The FAA attributed the brief closure to "staffing issues". "Our controllers, technicians, inspectors and others with critical safety or security sensitive roles are essential components of our national airspace system".

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All returned passengers would now be treated as close contacts and followed up with daily health checks, the ministry said. Fifty-six of those passengers are thought to be New Zealanders, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

It lifted the order - which also included airports in the Philadelphia area - after around 30 minutes.

"It must be noted that Bermuda's air traffic control services, provided by the Airport Authority, are 100% operational".

And the air traffic control tower at Chicago Midway Airport was closed on Tuesday after three FAA technicians tested positive for the coronavirus.

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