COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Industry experts say fewer people will travel over the Memorial Day weekend compared to previous years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Last year, 43 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day Weekend, the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president at AAA Travel. “With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”
At John Glenn International Airport, an average of 1,100 passengers are departing from Columbus each day. While that is three times the number of passengers who were flying one month ago, airport officials say it is still about 91 percent fewer passengers than what they typically see at this time of year.
“The unofficial start of summer is here and as travel restrictions begin to be lifted, we do expect to see passenger numbers increase,” said Sarah McQuaide, Manager of Communications and Media Relations at the Columbus Regional Airport Authority.
According to McQuaide, several safety measures have been implemented at the airport to protect both passengers and airport employees. Those include requiring all airport employees to wear face coverings, increasing the sanitation of high-touch areas, placing hand sanitizing stations throughout the building, installing Plexiglas barriers at customer interaction areas and limiting seating capacity on shuttle buses.
“Health and safety are extremely important for us,” she said. “It’s our main priority and by implementing these measures, we hope to limit the spread of the virus.”
This week, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began implementing new security procedures as a result of the pandemic.
The TSA is now asking all passengers to put the food they carry on to flights into a clear plastic bag that can be placed into a bin for screening. Passengers with prohibited items will be asked to leave the screening area to remove those items themselves. Additionally, agents will require passengers to scan their own boarding passes.
TSA officials are allowing passengers to carry a 12-ounce container of hand sanitizer through checkpoints. On that note, they are asking passengers to place items such as belts, wallets, keys and cell phones into their carry-on luggage during the screening process.
While travelers are encouraged to wear face covers, they may be asked to adjust them while passing through the checkpoints.