Despite the COVID outbreak, many are expected to travel for Christmas

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Much like Thanksgiving, there is a wave of travel slated for Christmas, as Americans who had to cut back on their plans last year due to the pandemic want to make up for lost time.

AAA predicts that more than 109 million people, a 34% increase from 2020, will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday period, which is between Thursday and January 2. That’s around 27.7 million travelers this time around and around 92% of 2019 Levels, according to AAA. Air travel is expected to increase 184% year-over-year to more than 6 million passengers.

“Americans who canceled their vacations in 2020 want to reunite with family and friends for the holidays this year, although they will still be aware of the pandemic and the new omicron variant,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement. declaration. “With the vaccines widely available, conditions are very different and many people feel more comfortable with travel. “

Safe travel

Masks are still required for everyone on planes, buses, trains and other public transport and at hubs such as airports and train stations.

With the increase in the omicron variant of COVID-19 potentially affecting vacation travel, the following advice comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Delay the trip until you are fully immunized.
  • Check the COVID-19 situation at your destination before traveling. State, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place.
  • Do not travel if you have been exposed to COVID-19, are ill, or have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and need to travel, get tested before and after your trip.
  • For those traveling abroad, all air passengers, regardless of their vaccination status, must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 1 day before travel to the United States.

As during the Thanksgiving rush, the Philadelphia International Airport will continue to have limited on-site parking as the airport’s economy parking lot has been permanently closed. The airport reports that on-site garages provide approximately 12,000 parking spaces, and the airport’s nine off-site parking partners have a total of over 8,700 parking spaces with rates ranging from $ 10 to $ 20. per day. The rate for the airport garage is $ 16 per day for parking 72 hours or more. Offsite parking partners may offer special rates to customers who register online and reserve a spot prior to travel.

Falling gas prices

One thing that has changed from Thanksgiving is the price of gasoline, which has fallen from a high of $ 3.61 per gallon locally.

GasBuddy, which monitors gas prices across the country, predicts the national average will be around $ 3.25 this Christmas, just a dime cheaper than the record high of $ 3.26 in 2013.

In Berks County on Monday morning, the average price of gasoline was $ 3.54 per gallon, down just over 7 cents per gallon over the month. Prices ranged from $ 3.25 to $ 3.69 at Berks. By comparison, the national average on Monday was $ 3.30, down more than a cent from November.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said the latest wave of COVID has caused demand to drop, resulting in prices falling. He predicts that prices will likely continue to decline as omicron’s grip strengthens after the holidays.

“We received a Christmas present that few should complain about: the drop in gas prices at a time of year when millions of Americans are spending their hard-earned dollars on gifts for loved ones,” De said. Haan in a statement. “The last thing they should have to worry about is expensive gasoline. While we can go a razor sharp under the tally of $ 3.26 a gallon in 2013 over Christmas, the good news is that prices should continue to moderate as we approach the last moments of 2021. ”

White Christmas?

According to Accuweather, the dream of a white Christmas is likely to be just that.

For Berks, rainy weather with a high of 50 is forecast for Christmas Day, as the county sees the remnants of wet weather hitting the southeast. However, there may be a risk of snow at higher elevations on Saturday. And Accuweather warns that if a system that is expected to stay offshore moves inland, there is a risk of weather disruption.

The majority of the snowy weather will be mainly confined to the northwest and upper Midwest.

Key travel links

PennDOT Road Conditions: www.511pa.com/

BARTA: https://www.bartabus.com/

SEPTA: https://www.septa.org/

Philadelphia International Airport: https://www.phl.org/flights or 800-PHL-GATE

TSA: 866-289-9673

Amtrak: www.amtrak.com or 800-USA-RAIL

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