Travelers pass by O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois on December 23, 2020.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

The US airport investigations fell to their lowest level in more than six months as the number of new Covid-19 infections increased and the Biden government imposed new travel restrictions.

The Transportation Security Administration examined just 468,933 people at U.S. airports on Tuesday. This is a 71% decrease from the previous year when more than 1.6 million people passed these checkpoints. It was the lowest number of screenings since July 4th, TSA said.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines CEOs recently warned that the industry was facing a difficult start to 2021. Executives expect it will be a few more months before more Covid-19 vaccinations lead to a significant recovery in demand for travel. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines will announce the results and their outlook for 2021 on Thursday.

In addition to a slow adoption of vaccines, demand for air travel is further challenged by increased travel restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. The Biden government this week extended an entry ban for most non-US citizens who recently visited Brazil, the UK and much of Europe, adding South Africa to these rules as virus mutations spread from these areas.

The government this week also urged travelers, including U.S. residents, to demonstrate a recent negative Covid test before boarding flights to the U.S. A senior official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday the government is also weighing whether Covid testing should be required before domestic flights.