SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – This Memorial Day weekend marks a dramatic change from this same weekend last year, as COVID-19 cases continue to drop and vaccination rates are up. As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease across the country, travelers are taking to the skies, many of them for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
More than 23,000 travelers stepped foot in the Salt Lake City International Airport on Friday.
“A camping trip to Moab, about 15 of us are going to do some camping, a bonfire, a little hiking, and just some good times,” said traveler Eric Walsh.
“The weather is nicer, some kids are out of school already, and it’s just kind of the traditional kick off to summer travel,” said airport spokesperson, Nancy Volmer.
“We’re going to Iraq to visit our family over there,” said Zaid Alsarray, who’s traveling with his wife and two daughters.
“Last Memorial Day, we were in the midst of a pandemic,” Volmer said.
As the holiday weekend comes to a close, Volmer said they anticipate the airport will see yet another increase in travelers on Monday.
Last year, the number of travelers was slashed by the pandemic, but as more people are vaccinated and pandemic restrictions lift, more people are choosing to travel.
“He promised me that after we took that vaccine we are going over there. I’m just so happy,” said Zahrii Alsarray.
Now, many travelers feel safe again.
“I’m already vaccinated as of a couple months ago, so I’m completely free of anxiety and traveling, and enjoying myself,” Walsh said.
“I feel so excited and I’m happy we got the vaccine,” said Layan Jasin Alsarray.
Volmer said airport travel this summer is expected to surpass the number of travelers in summer 2019.
With a greater volume of travelers, Volmer said people need to plan ahead and make sure they have time to get through security and to their gate. How to navigate the new airport’s layout can be found on their website.
“Be sure to wear your mask and be sure that you allow extra time,” Volmer said.
The airport follows federal COVID-19 safety precautions. Masks will be required until mid-September.