SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Millions of Americans are on the move for the big holiday weekend even as the highly-transmissible omicron variant of the coronavirus drives the second-largest surge in cases since the pandemic began.
“I feel pretty safe because I’m vaccinated and boosted and keep my mask on,” said Claire Jackson who was flying from the Bay Area to Arizona Thursday.
Jackson is among an estimated 109 million Americans who will travel 50 miles or more between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, according to AAA. Six million are estimated to fly during the next few days.
And, soon, the TSA security line may not be the only checkpoint in airports.
A group of Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinsteinn (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), propose requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test result to board domestic flights.
Swalwell took to Twitter recently and wrote that “it is one hundred percent batty the unvaccinated are allowed to fly.”
Jackson said she would “one hundred percent” fly if she was required to show proof she is vaccinated.
“I travel internationally and it’s the same over there,” said Jackson. “So yeah, I definitely welcome it.”
Many Americans are on edge once again as the omicron variant pushes COVID cases much higher than the summer peak caused by the delta variant.
Rafat Haddad, who owns 3 Bees Coffee in San Mateo, said his customers have been more cautious.
“Mostly people are taking coffee to go and, if they sit down, they don’t sit for a long time,” Haddad said.
He added that he’s canceled his New Year’s Eve plans as the nation’s cases surge.
Business owners across the Bay Area, including bars and restaurants in San Francisco and Oakland, are also choosing to close their doors in order to stay away from the holiday crowds and potentially become the source of super-spreader outbreaks.
Lincoln McBride made an indoor reservation at a restaurant in downtown San Mateo a month ago before omicron hit the U.S.
Despite the cold and rain, many like McBride feel that being indoors without a mask right now is unappetizing.
“We decided we’re going to eat outside just to play it safe,” said McBride. “It just isn’t worth the risk.”