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Gary airport preparing for coronavirus
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Gary airport preparing for coronavirus

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Gary/Chicago International Airport customs facility

A sign welcomes people entering the United States to the Gary/Chicago International Airport's U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility. Any potential flights from countries with high incidences of coronavirus will not be allowed to clear customs in Gary for the foreseeable future.

GARY — The Gary/Chicago International Airport is coordinating with local, state and federal agencies to create protocols and train staff as the coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to spread.

"We've worked diligently to start a protocol and preparations to address the current crisis with COVID-19," Executive Director Duane Hayden told the Airport Authority board at its Wednesday meeting. "Awareness, prevention, mitigation, continuity of operations, response and recovery plans are ongoing."

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The immediate implications haven't been significant — the airport's incoming international flights generally do not come from any of the most heavily hit countries. But with the virus outbreak, any potential flights from designated countries, now including China, Iran, South Korea, Italy or Japan will be rerouted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said airport Health and Safety Manager Cliff Lee.

"Even though we can accept international flights, if they are coming from a country known as a 'level 3,' they cannot clear customs here, they have to go to a major airport," Lee said.

The airport has also canceled an Aviation Day career expo scheduled for Friday.

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