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How new CDC travel guidelines for the vaccinated could impact Utah

Posted at 6:08 PM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 20:08:15-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new travel guidelines for fully vaccinated people Friday, loosening some of the restrictions that have been in place for months.

The CDC's new guidelines come as more people travel in and out of Utah for spring break and the Easter holiday weekend. Nancy Volmer, a spokesperson for the Salt Lake City International Airport, said numbers are up from this time last year.

"We have been averaging about 20,000 people coming through the front door [every day]," Volmer said. "That's not quite up to the pre-pandemic levels, but it's getting close."

She said daily traffic is only down about 6,000 people per day from 2019. Volmer expects the new guidelines from the CDC will draw more people in.

"Just having more people vaccinated will add to that comfort level for those who are already traveling, but then for those who have maybe been hesitant to travel, it will actually make them feel a little more comfortable," she added.

On Friday morning, the CDC announced that fully vaccinated people will no longer need to get a COVID-19 test before or after travel within the U.S., stating, "fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19."

Fully vaccinated U.S. citizens traveling internationally won't need to show a negative test to get back into the country, and people will no longer need to quarantine after getting to their destination inside the country, or when returning from international travel.

The CDC suggests avoiding international travel for those who are not vaccinated, and it is continuing to push mask wearing, social distancing and diligent hand washing.

"I think it probably makes it much more relaxing to know that once you're vaccinated and you've had your two-week period, travel or being around friends and family is much less problematic," said Audrey Simons, who was visiting Utah from Los Angeles with her family.

The new guidelines only apply to people who are two weeks out from receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or a single shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Volmer said regardless of whether they are vaccinated, travelers should remain diligent with health safety protocols.

"We've done everything from adding plexiglass shields to additional hand sanitizer stations," she said. "You know, we've added the reminders to physically distance, of course face masks are required while traveling through the airport or on an airplane."

FOX 13 spoke with a few people traveling through the Salt Lake City International Airport Friday who said the new rules make it feel like life is beginning to get back to normal.

"It's news to us because we've been flying since 6 a.m.," said Greg Congdon. "But that sounds really good!"

"I think it's a good thing because, like, I think this COVID situation pretty much has people in jail," said Ethan Archer. "And pretty much, like, stop people the life they want to live."

Volmer said the airport expects numbers to be at 85% of pre-pandemic levels by May, and exceeding those levels come summer.