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Southwest to keep middle seats open through November, requires face masks

Southwest Airlines Co. said it will keep its middle seats open through Nov. 30, as it bolsters its commitment to its "Southwest Promise" which includes enhanced cleaning and physical-distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the "Promise," airline said it is requiring face masks to be worn at all times for customers over the age of two and employees. The company will provide face masks to customers that don't have them. In addition, customers are required to acknowledge that they are aware of the face covering policy, and confirm that they don't have symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been exposed to COVID-19 in the 14 days before traveling. Southwest said it is also boarding in smaller group of 10 to allow for social distancing, and is providing hand sanitizers at check-in kiosks, ticket counters and gates. Southwest also provided an update to financial guidance, in which it raised its September load factor outlook and lowered its average daily cash burn estimate for the third-quarter. The stock rose 0.1% in premarket trading. It has advanced 11.1% over the past three months through Tuesday, while the U.S. Global Jets ETF has slipped 0.4% and the S&P 500 has gained 8.9%.

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