MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — As cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant were first seen overseas and now in some states in America, one of the major questions is, how will this impact travelers this holiday season?
So far there are new rules now in effect for international travelers. Such as needing a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of departure in order to board.
Previously, travelers had three days to obtain a negative COVID-19 test.
The new travel restriction applies to all international travelers who are age two years and older.
“It certainly impacted travel restrictions, mostly international, but also to those who are entering the United States they must present their airlines with a negative COVID test hours prior to arriving,” said Daniel Armbruster, AAA Texas Spokesperson.
The Biden administration also extended the requirement to wear face coverings on planes, trains, and buses.
“The guidance and communication we have received from the government is the mask mandate has been extended through March 18,” said Mario Delgado, Transit Director for the city of McAllen.
He also said there is an increase in the number of passengers taking the bus.
“Traffic has actually picked up of late. I don’t have specific numbers to tell you at this time but we expect to see an uptick in traffic in the holiday season,” said Delgado.
Armbruster said they’ve seen an increase in travelers booking flights all the way into 2023.
“But travel booking continues to be on the rise throughout 2022 and 2023, people have been cooped up, they’re ready to travel so it’s high in demand,” said Armbruster.
He added the increase in bookings could be due to major differences between last year and this year.
“In 2021 we’ve seen of course many people get vaccinated, some [getting the booster] so that certainly is going to change attitudes to some degree about whether or not people travel,” said Armbruster.
But with the new variant, Armbruster explains what families might do to keep their holiday plans from canceling.
“At this point, it doesn’t look like it’s going to cause people to cancel their plans but some people may change their plans,” said Armbruster.
He adds later on experts will know more if the Omicron variant will have the same impact or greater than the Delta variant.
“Just looking at the Delta variant when it came along it didn’t really shut things down, it slowed things down for a little bit,” said Armbruster.