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Holiday travel expected to be extra busy despite COVID-19

Posted at 6:39 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 20:45:06-05

SALT LAKE CITY — If people weren’t wearing masks, you might think it’s 2019 with the amount of people traveling this holiday season.

Airlines are on track to carry 6.4 million passengers, according to AAA — three times more than last year.

FOX 13 spoke to travelers at the airport about how this season is a reunion for many.

“I’ve had all my shots and my booster, and they’ve had all their shots, so I’m hoping I’m going to teach them how to ski,” said Kathleen Henry, who saw her grandkids and daughter for the first time in years.

An Ogden grandmother has waited to see her grandkids for over three years. Her story is like many traveling this year, including the Lambert family from New York.

“They’ve missed out on so much this year, and there’s so much family they haven’t seen. We don’t have family in New York, so this is really special,” said Caroline Lambert, who is from New York.

People are making up lost time for holidays that in some ways were taken from us last year.

Lambert says they’re vaccinated, boosted, and ready to give that big hug that’s so overdue.

“The fact that everyone who is going to be in attendance is fully vaccinated and boosted means that we felt hesitant, but hopeful,” she added.

Safety precautions at the SLC International Airport include sanitizing and disinfecting more frequently, adding sneeze guards and hand sanitizing stations, and misting and fogging high traffic areas.

Even with all the safety measures at the airport, Dr. Randle Likes, who heads the emergency department at Timpanogos Regional Hospital, says we are not out of the woods with COVID.

“I think people are just ready to get out and have been tired of being cooped up, but it’s probably going to have some consequences down the road,” said Dr. Likes.

While you don’t need to get tested to fly domestically, it could be a good idea depending on who you are gathering with. Dr. Likes says if you have a choice, stick with a PCR test over a rapid test.

“If you’re going to be around high-risk individuals and aren’t willing to maintain precautions all the time, I think getting a test is a good idea. Some of the rapid tests aren’t accurate compared to the PCR tests. Any precautions you take is going to help everyone in the community,” said Dr. Likes.

The Salt Lake City International Airport expects Dec. 22-24, as well as Jan. 2, to be the busiest travel days. Around 25,000 passengers are projected to depart from the airport each of those days with additional passengers arriving at SLC as well.