LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In spite of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that unvaccinated people avoid air travel and the vaccinated continue to mask up, many travelers said the ongoing pandemic will not change their travel plans this weekend.
“People at risk need to pay attention, but I think the rest of us need to live our lives and move on,” said traveler Mark Weaver.READ MORE: Lakers Overcome Morant's 40-points, Beat Grizzlies 121-118 For First Win Of Season
With the more contagious Delta variant circulating widely, the CDC is urging unvaccinated people to stay home, rather than go forward with travel plans. Additionally, a number of destinations are now barring unvaccinated Americans or making a relaxing vacation more difficult to come by.
According to LAX officials, airlines have scheduled 3,289 flights from the airport between Friday and Tuesday, roughly double the number from last year, but about 78% of the level from Labor Day 2019.
In a briefing Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said they would not recommend traveling at this time for anyone who is unvaccinated.
“We have actually articulated that people who are fully vaccinated and who are wearing masks can travel,” she said. “Although given where we are with disease transmission right now, we would say that people need to take these risks into their own consideration as they think about traveling.
Southland visitor Patrick Gibbs, though, said he’s not worried.
“I’m vaccinated and I think it’s safe, for now. I wear the mask because the mask is required, but no, I’m not worried about being on the flight,” Gibbs said.
While CDC recommendations may not deter some unvaccinated people from getting on a plane, travel bans might. The European Union – which announced this week that 70% of its adults have been fully vaccinated – took the U.S. off its safe travel list. Canada has reopened its borders to Americans – but only the fully vaccinated ones.
Even American destinations like Hawaii are making it more difficult to cap off the summer in style. Honolulu is now requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test taken within 48 hours to enter any indoor establishment. However, state officials have shot down rumors they are considering a Labor Day weekend lockdown due to soaring cases of COVID.READ MORE: At Least 1 Person Killed In Crash Off The 57 Freeway
LAX spokesman Heath Montgomery said travelers should call ahead to get updated information before their flights and any restrictions their destination may have imposed.
“It’s really incumbent on you, the traveler, when you’re booking your tickets, getting closer to your flight, when you get to the airport just triple check all the information to make sure it’s current, the rules and regulations where you might be going,” Montgomery said.
For others, the prospect of flying during the pandemic, vaccinated or not, is out of their comfort zone.
“I think if you don’t have the necessary precautions, probably not the best idea if you’re not willing to get sick or exposed to it,” said Rocio Martinez who is visiting Newport Beach from LA.
Martinez and her girlfriends decided to drive to the beach before the crowds descend on hotspots this weekend.
“If you’re around crowds and you feel safe, wear the mask and it’s fine, but if you’re still scared, don’t go out. Just stay home. Don’t put yourself in that anxiety,” Ariana Vermillion said.
Even with a staycation to one of Southern California’s favorite vacation getaways, visitors should be prepared for new rules and regulations related to the COVID surge – Palm Springs is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours to enter a restaurant or bar, and San Luis Obispo County has joined Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties in reimposing a mask mandate.
Most travelers will, in fact, be driving to their destinations, according to AAA spokesman Dough Shupe.
“The vast majority of people who will be traveling will be going to automobile,” Shupe told CBSLA. “We don’t have a forecast for Labor Day, but we expect we’ll likely see very similar travel volume from the Fourth of July, with more than 3 million people taking a trip.”MORE NEWS: Vehicle Crashes Into Restaurant Killing One, Injuring Five