By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Despite warnings from public health officials and the surge in COVID cases, tens of thousands of travelers passed through San Francisco International Airport on the last weekend before Christmas.

Though not as busy as it would be pre-pandemic, there was still plenty of activity.

SFO officials say on Friday and Saturday, the airport saw double the number of travelers it normally sees on a weekday during the pandemic.
Even more travel is expected as we get closer to Christmas.

“Well family was here, and I was at work out there, so I had to come back here for family, or I would have spent it by myself,” said Mike Epson who is visiting from Phoenix. “Just make sure you’re safe, keep hand sanitizer, and stay masked up.”

Julie Jarian is leaving San Francisco after spending a weekend with her boyfriend.

“It was hard enough all of December kind of far apart, so it was like a last minute opportunity to get out of town and see one another before Christmas chaos,” said Jarian.

Officials said 76,000 travelers flew in and out of the airport on Friday and Saturday, compared to 82,000 over those two days Thanksgiving weekend.

Across the US, more than 1 million people passed through airport security checkpoints in each of the last two days.

The travelers included a group of San Diego State students, who were returning home for the holidays.

“We actually both had COVID at college, and already gone through the whole process and quarantined and all of that, so we’re both safe to travel, we both tested negative, we obviously want to keep our families safe, obviously wearing masks as much as we can,” said Aly Sweeney, who was traveling with her friend.

Many Bay Area hospitals are overwhelmed, as San Francisco public health officials plead with the public to stay home, and do not gather with other households.

“Just taking the precautions and get home and just quarantine while I’m here,” said Nelson Toilolo of San Francisco.

Many travelers who landed at SFO were unaware of the city’s new travel order – which requires a 10-day quarantine. It went into effect on Friday.