San Diego sees spring break spike in air travel despite virus restrictions

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — Spring break is leading to a sharp increase in air travel across the U.S. but the coronavirus pandemic adds some complications for vacationers headed to and from San Diego.

Sabrina LoPiccolo says the San Diego International Airport is seeing much more travel as COVID-19 infection rates decrease, colleges let out for break and people take time off work to head out with their kids. “As people are getting vaccinated they’re probably feeling more comfortable,” LoPiccolo added.

The numbers reflect that: Still down from a typical spring break, where as many as 28,000 people pass through the airport every day, about 12,500 daily passengers have headed through San Diego TSA checkpoints in recent weeks. That’s made March the airport’s busiest month since the start of the pandemic.

But even with more residents vaccinated and case rates declining, travelers should keep pandemic restrictions and guidelines in mind.

California residents are still urged to avoid non-essential travel and going more than 120 miles from home, including travel within the state. For those who do fly, face coverings are required on airport property in San Diego and stickers mark where passengers should stand in lines and other common areas to ensure social distancing. Once you’re on the plane, airlines require face coverings and food and beverage service is limited, among other measures.

All airport employees are required to undergo personal health screenings in San Diego and cannot come to work if they have symptoms. Passengers are asked to do the same. Enhanced cleaning procedures are in place, too.

With social distancing in mind, LoPiccolo says they’ve seen a decrease in business travel to and from San Diego but an increase in flights to less densely populated areas that offer outdoor recreation and plenty of open space. That includes Montana, which Alaska Airlines just added nonstop flights to from San Diego.

As far as inbound traffic — the state health department isn’t rolling out the welcome mat just yet. “Traveling into California from other states or countries for tourism or recreation is strongly discouraged, and anyone traveling into California should self-quarantine for 10 days, unless quarantining is impracticable and the travel is for the sole purpose of meeting critical healthcare needs or other emergency response,” California’s COVID-19 website states.

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