(CNN) — Is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) like our best friend now? The very hard realities of the coronavirus seem to have softened this hardline agency's rigid rules -- not in terms of ensuring our safety, but by loosening a few less-vital restrictions in the face of the pandemic.
First the TSA announced on March 13 that travelers could bring one 12-ounce container of liquid hand sanitizer in their carry-on luggage, increasing the limit from 3.4 ounces. For those who are still traveling (and who can find hand sanitizer, a scarcity in many areas), it's a big relief to know your personal sanitization needs are covered when flying.
The agency followed a week later, tweeting a new provision to ease weary, anxious travelers' minds: Americans can now fly domestically with an expired driver's license. The details of the new policy are now in the coronavirus section of the TSA website, "Travelers with a state driver's license that expired beginning on March 1, 2020, and who are not able to renew at their state driver's license agency may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint. TSA will accept expired driver's licenses a year after the expiration date, plus 60 days after the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency."
Considering the panic and confusion around The REAL ID Act, which was to prohibit passengers from clearing TSA checkpoints if their identification did not meet minimum security standards for the issuing and production of state licenses standards (such as a regular or an expired state driver's license), this news is a marked shift in policy.
The enforcement of the Real ID Act was set to begin on October 1, but as the US government navigates myriad unknowns with far-reaching consequences, and DMVs wither closed or over-crowded, that date is no longer realistic.
On March 16, according to a press release from the Department of Homeland security, "The Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the Committee on Homeland Security Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security Lou Correa (D-CA), called on Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to delay the October 1, 2020, REAL ID Act implementation deadline."
Recognizing the country's current dire straits, the Chairs went on to say, "The travel and tourism industry, and the aviation industry in particular, have been hard hit by this global pandemic. The last thing travelers need is more uncertainty around traveling."