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Thanksgiving travelers packed planes to new pandemic heights. Will rebound continue amid omicron variant?

  • November 29, 2021

expected.

The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 2,451,300 people Sunday as passengers who departed on a variety of days leading up to the holiday returned home en masse.

That is more than double the nearly 1.2 million people who passed through checkpoints on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year but nearly half a million passengers shy of the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2019, which remains the busiest day in TSA’s history with 2,882,915 people screened.

For the 10-day Thanksgiving travel rush that began Nov. 19, the TSA said screened nearly 20.9 million passengers. That compares with 9.5 million a year ago and a record 23.5 million in 2019.

The omicron variant has sparked new travel restrictions. Are more COVID rules ahead?

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The good news for travelers: early forecasts for inclement weather with the potential to seriously disrupt flights didn’t materialize, and airline operations were on track after a series of meltdowns during the summer and into the fall and questions about whether vaccine mandates for employees might add to the trouble.

Monday said the variant is likely to  quickly spread around the globe, possibly with “severe consequences.” discovered in South Africa just before Thanksgiving and dubbed omicron by WHO on Friday, has already sparked travel restrictions. Japan, Israel impose travel restrictions due to omicron variant

Beginning Monday foreign travelers from South Africa and seven other African countries will be banned from entering the United States. The ban comes just a few weeks after the U.S. lifted a pandemic-long travel ban, reopening to fully vaccinated foreign nationals from more than two dozen countries covered by the ban.

The ban does not include U.S. citizens but on Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State issued do not travel alerts for the eight African countries covered by the ban.

In England, the new restrictions include the addition of a mandatory PCR test on the second day after arrival in the country.   

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