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Residents feeling more confident about traveling during pandemic

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Wendy LaCombe, owner of World Wide Travel, works remotely Friday at the Biggby Coffee in Alpena.

ALPENA — Northeast Michigan residents are feeling more confident about traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wendy LaCombe, owner of World Wide Travel, is booking more trips for people planning to go on spring break than she did last year when all of her clients backed out of their plans as the pandemic began.

LaCombe said she has been booking a lot of trips for clients choosing to travel within the United States — to places like Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida — because of new travel requirements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC now requires all passengers traveling into the United States to have a negative COVID-19 result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the country. The new travel requirements apply to passengers two years of age and older, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

“The resorts in Mexico are paying for that and the only downside is if they test positive, they have to quarantine there for 14 days,” she said. “I haven’t had it happen to anybody yet, but it could cause people to pay to stay there for 14 days.”

LaCombe said because of these requirements, she is not seeing as much travel to Mexico as she would typically expect.

LaCombe’s experiences are similar to the results of a recent AAA travel survey showing that while 62% of Michigan residents are uncomfortable traveling in the pandemic, there appears to be growing confidence among travelers.

The survey showed one in five Michigan residents say they are more comfortable traveling now than when the pandemic began last year and that 57% of Michigan residents plan to take a vacation of three days or more. Additionally, 38% of Michigan residents surveyed plan to take multiple trips this year.

AAA Spokeswoman Adrienne Woodland attributed the growing confidence to mask usage and cleaning policies, more knowledge about how the virus spreads, quarantine fatigue or wanting to get out of the house and having received the COVID-19 vaccination.

The survey showed about two in five residents say they will feel more comfortable traveling after receiving both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and when cases begin to decrease.

“The COVID-19 vaccine truly is the key to restoring American’s confidence in traveling again,” Woodland said in a news release. “With health experts predicting widespread vaccinations by the summer, AAA Travel Advisors are seeing a growing interest in bookings for the second half of the year.”

Josh Meyerson, medical director for District Health Department No. 4, said whether traveling within the United States or abroad, travelers should practice the same safety protocols they do at home. Meyerson recommends avoiding crowded indoor spaces and wearing a mask while in public spaces as well as outdoors if safe distancing is not possible.

“If an establishment doesn’t seem safe due to crowds or others not masking, seek an alternate, he said. “Eating out should be outdoors, and carry-out is much safer than dining in. If visiting friends and relatives, you should follow the same guidelines for social bubbles as you do at home and keep the number small.”

In addition to the new CDC travel guidelines, Meyerson said international travelers must get tested three to five days after travel after returning to the U.S. and stay home in self-quarantine for seven days after travel. Meyerson said even if a traveler tests negative for the disease, they still need to stay home and self-quarantine.

Those who test positive for COVID-19 after returning to the country are required to isolate themselves to protect others from becoming infected, he said.

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