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Omicron variant and holiday travel

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 8:14 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Omicron variant is already throwing a wrench in some people’s travel plans, and many are holding their breath to see how concerning the variant will be now that it’s reached the U.S.

Cases of the Omicron variant are still small, but they are growing, and travelers are wondering if this new variant will upend their holiday travel plans.

Local travel agents are already seeing the fallout from the Omicron variant.

“I’ve had clients that were planning to go to Europe. These couples were going to Hungary to visit family, but now with the new variant and the closure of certain countries, they’ve postponed it. They’ve canceled their trips,” said owner of Travel Designers Birmingham, John Martin.

Martin said this is also hurting cruise lines that were just seeing an increase in bookings.

“Cruise lines…I was talking to a cruise line rep told me yesterday, he said the first of November, the first weeks, everything was strong. The sales were great, but once they announced this variant then it slowed down some because a lot of the cruise lines have multiple country ports of call,” Martin explained.

His advice if you’re traveling is to take a wait and see approach and remain flexible.

“My biggest recommendation is if a person hasn’t yet been vaccinated, get vaccinated. If you’re due for a booster, get a booster…and again, that’s going to be people who’ve had Pfizer or Moderna six months ago, or people who’ve had Johnson & Johnson two months ago,” said Medical Director of Disease Control for JCDH, Dr. Wesley Willeford.

He also recommends masking, staying out of large crowds, and good hand hygiene.

But it’s not just your health you need to be concerned about.

“If you are planning to travel internationally, I think it is very, very, very important to make sure that you have plans in place in case there’s a travel shut down, in case there is something that may make it difficult for you to get back home because you don’t want to be caught in another country for a long period of time and not really know what’s going to happen,” Dr. Willeford said.

Travel agents recommend getting travel insurance for trips in case you need to change you plans last minute, but keep in mind, not all policies guarantee you’ll get your money back.

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