ORLANDO, Fla. – The Thanksgiving travel period kicked off at Orlando International Airport a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance against holiday travel.
With the coronavirus surging out of control, the nation’s top public health agency urged Americans not to spend the holiday with people from outside their household.
Tabitha James and her husband were among the thousands of passengers who boarded a flight in Orlando Friday.
“We got tested before we left to make sure that we’re okay, so we won’t get anyone else sick,” she said. “If I was sick, I would have stayed at home.”
James said the rise in cases has been concerning but planned to be with her family for Thanksgiving, despite the new warning from the CDC.
“I do want my family around,” she said. “We’ll just try to practice all the things that you’re taught. Social distancing, hand sanitizing, wear your mask. That’s the best thing we can do.”
From Friday thru December 1, leaders at Orlando International Airport said they plan to see their highest numbers of passengers since the pandemic began.
During the Thanksgiving travel period, airport officials warned that lines could be long, but not in the way you remember them.
“Sometimes the line appears longer because of that social distancing, the extra space between guests,” Director of Customer Experience Brian Engle said.
Travelers may also notice fewer fellow passengers, since TSA data shows airport travel is down 74% since May, and as cases continue to climb nationwide.
“People used to book three months out but because of COVID-19, it’s sometimes a week out now,” Engle said. “They’re going to wait that long and wait to see how the numbers are.”
For anyone choosing to join others for Thanksgiving, the CDC recommends wearing a mask when not eating, staying six feet apart and keeping windows open.
The busiest Thanksgiving travel day at Orlando International Airport is projected to be Sunday Nov. 29 with 44,347 travelers.