KENNER, La. — After a year, Jodi and David Schiff are vaccinated and vacationing. Visiting from Atlanta, we caught up with them at baggage claim at Armstrong International Airport.
It’s Jodi Schiff’s first trip since the pandemic began.
“It was very exciting. I love being back in the airport. And we’re visiting our son at Tulane, and we get to meet his friends for the first time. So, very exciting, she said.”
The couple said they’re both vaccinated, giving them the confidence to travel once again.
“It’s liberating, it really is,” said David Schiff.
Friday evening, as the Schiffs collected their bags, MSY was busier than it had been in a long time.
There’s an air of COVID confidence thanks to the vaccine.
“I had my first one. I’m getting my second one this month,” said Gabrielle Gautreaux, who was catching a flight out of New Orleans.
Her last flight was right after stay-at-home orders went into effect last March.
She said, “I don’t know if we’ll ever be back to fully normal. But hopefully, things will start settling down a little bit. But I definitely think we’re in for a long ride.”
Zachary Andrews, who works in the transportation and travel industry, said the busy airport is a good sign for him.
“Starting to come back and people are feeling confident. So, people that’s in the travel industry like I am, we look forward to it,” he said.
The uptick in travel comes as Friday, the CDC released new guidelines for vaccinated travelers.
The CDC says fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested before or after traveling within the United States. They also don’t need to quarantine when they return.
For international travel, fully vaccinated people do not need to take a COVID test beforehand unless it’s required by the other country.
However, they should still receive a negative COVID test result before returning to the United States.
Vaccinated or not, everyone should still wear masks on all forms of public transit, including flights.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky also added, it’s not wise to travel if you don’t need to.
“We know that travel was up for the month of March, more so than it had been since the beginning of this pandemic. We know that right now we have a surging number of cases. I would advocate against general travel overall,” said Dr. Walensky Friday.
Americans are definitely packing their bags. Last summer, travel through most airports was down 95 to 97 percent.
Thursday, April 1st, nearly 1.6 million travelers went through TSA checkpoints across the country. On April 1st 2020, just 124,000 people traveled.
Morgan Wessel, visiting New Orleans for a roofing convention, said she’s just starting to plan trips again.
“We actually had a big trip canceled, back last summer. And so it just didn’t feel worth risking it getting canceled again. So, we kind of waited until things were really open before booking any more trips,” said Wessel. “Just booked a trip to Turks and Caicos.”
The CDC says if you are not vaccinated, you should continue to follow current recommendations, which include getting a COVID test before and after you travel.
The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” as waiting two weeks after your final COVID vaccine.