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Airlines, railways see uptick in travelers as COVID-19 restrictions ease

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Masks may still be required for everybody onboard trains and planes, but an easing of restrictions nationwide is enough for millions to do what they missed out on for over a year: Vacation.

“They are ready to go, they are booking a sun and fun destination, and they want to go in the next four to six weeks,” said Martha Meade with AAA.

She says comfort among travelers has risen alongside vaccination numbers; one poll shows 77% of Americans plan to travel this summer.

“We’ve seen lots of people literally get their second shot, grab a bite to eat, come to our office and book their vacation,” Meade added.

Richmond International Airport says April alone saw double the business they saw in February, and May only continued that upward trend.

Amtrak said that they’re also seeing an increase, and plan to restore daily service to some of their more popular routes such as the Palmetto, Silver Meteor and Silver Star routes.

Both RIC and Amtrak, however, still require riders to keep their masks on.

“I don’t leave the house without my mask, and I’m fully vaccinated. This thing ain’t over yet,” said traveler Anthony Baptiste.

That’s a sentiment shared by most fliers at RIC on Wednesday, whether they were vaccinated or not.

Gail Cole-Spencer said she plans to keep her mask on, adding “maybe in the next year or so, when things get better, I will stop wearing it.”

Thalia Dominguez from Florida said, “I’m not planning on getting vaccinated, so I plan on wearing my mask just for the safety of others, and for their concern.”

Others, like Liz Karafa, are growing weary of the masks.

“I’m fully vaccinated, so I’m more comfortable without it. The masks tend to fog up my glasses and I can’t see where I’m going, and I don’t like the way they pull on your ears. I think it’s up to a person’s comfort level,” she said.

The TSA extends it’s mask mandate, saying that face coverings will continue to be required through at least Sept. 13. The initial face mask requirement was set to expire on May 11.

This includes all modes of public transportation: airports, airplanes, buses, as well as commuter bus and rail systems.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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