On Thanksgiving Eve, the TSA throughput at U.S. airports reported 2,311,979 travelers. That’s more than double the roughly 1.1 million figure from last year, and almost 90% of the roughly 2.62 million for the same weekday in 2019.
On the day after Thanksgiving, stocks tumbled to post their worst single day drop of 2021. This, in response to extreme economic jitters over Omicron, the new Covid-19 “variant of concern.”
And in the U.S. on Sunday at the close of Thanksgiving Weekend, TSA throughput reached the highest passenger numbers since the start of the pandemic at 2,451,300.
New Covid Travel Rules
Nations raced to impose controls even as scientists cautioned that it’s not clear if the new variant is more alarming than other versions of the virus. Others questioned whether closing borders and reactive travel bans take us in the right direction. The U.S. announced travel restrictions from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi. Other nations had reacted similarly as “the new variant prompted governments to slam shut their borders to people coming from the region,” reported CNN.
Consumer Confidence Slammed
As the BBC puts it, “Fragile consumer confidence is knocked again.” Sudden rule changes are already having an effect on holiday bookings and cancellations, according to several industry associations. And the rules are all over the place. From Switzerland to Singapore, and from Norway to New Zealand, tightened travel restrictions have kicked in.
Mixed Messages Given
President Biden is expected to announce as early as Thursday that all travelers to the United States must be tested for the coronavirus one day before they board a flight, regardless of their vaccination status or country of departure. Also under consideration is a requirement that travelers self-quarantine for seven days after arrival, even if their results are negative, and that they get re-tested within three to five days.
In Canada, proof of full coronavirus vaccination is required for age 12-plus to board any plane or train and new measures require all inbound travelers from destinations other than the U.S. to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival and isolate until they get their test result.
In Europe, a messy mosaic of mixed curfews, full and partial lockdowns are back in effect, including Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Slovakia. In Britain, mandatory PCR testing for all international arrivals with quarantine measures was reinstated. In Spain, travelers must be fully vaccinated instead of showing proof of a negative Covid test. France requires everyone over 12 to show proof of being double vaccinated to access ski slopes from Dec. 4.
Elsewhere, Israel is barring entry to all foreign nationals and Morocco has shut down incoming flights entirely.
Meantime, IATA urged that a data-driven approach be put in place as an alternative to border closings, quarantines and restrictions.