San Francisco residents flooded the city’s international airport amid the new stay-at-home order to travel to their relatives in the last weekend before Christmas.
Despite public health officials urging people to avoid traveling amid the coronavirus pandemic, the airport was filled with customers. However, the number of travelers was still a far cry from pre-pandemic numbers.
On Friday and Saturday, the airport observed double the number of people that have been traveling amid the pandemic, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) officials said. They expect more residents to travel as Christmas approaches.
A resident visiting from Phoenix, Mike Epson, said, “Well, family was here, and I was at work out there, so I had to come back here for family, or I would have spent it myself. Just make sure you’re safe, keep hand sanitizer, and stay masked up.”
Another resident, Julie Jarian, was leaving San Francisco after living with her boyfriend for the weekend. She said, “It was hard enough all of December kind of far apart, so it was like a last-minute opportunity to get out of town and see one another before Christmas chaos.”
The airport recorded about 76,000 total travelers flew in its aircraft between Friday and Saturday. The number is similar to that experienced in the two days of the Thanksgiving weekend at 82,000 people.
In the last two days, more than one million people passed through airport security checkpoints across the United States, CBS Local reported.
The travelers that flew through the SFO include students from San Diego State that were returning to their families to spend the holiday season. One student traveling with her friend, Aly Sweeney, said, “We actually both had COVID at college, and already gone through the whole process and quarantined and all of that, so we’re both safe to travel, we both tested negative, we obviously want to keep our families safe, obviously wearing masks as much as we can.”
Many hospitals in the Bay Area are experiencing critically low intensive care unit capacities. San Francisco public health officials have frequently recommended residents to stay inside their homes and spend the holidays away from family members living in other households or areas.
San Francisco resident, Nelson Toilolo, said, “Just taking the precautions and get home and just quarantine while I’m here.” A lot of the residents that flew over the weekend were not aware of San Francisco’s new quarantine travel order that required them to self-isolate for ten days.