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'We want everyone to be safe:' Airports hopeful new CDC travel guidance bring in more passengers

The CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 within the United States.

TAMPA, Fla. — It's one of the first signs of our "new normal:" Travel in and out of Tampa Bay is picking up.

"We have been averaging approximately 50,000 to 55,000 passengers a day," Emily Nipps with Tampa International Airport said. 

Easter weekend is expected to be busy, with Saturday being the busiest day for air travel since the pandemic started.

"We're expecting approximately 66,000 passengers to come to the airport. That's starting to get close to a normal day in 2019, so that's very encouraging to see people starting to travel again. Of course, we want them to do it safely," Nipps said.

The CDC's new travel guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated will help.

"The science shows us that getting fully vaccinated allows you to do more things safely," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday.

Walensky says fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19 within the United States. That means they won't need to get a test before traveling in the country or self-quarantine after their stay.

If they go abroad, different rules apply. Travelers will need a test if the country they're going to requires it. They should also get a negative test result before boarding the flight back to the U.S., but won't have to quarantine when they return. 

Wearing a mask and social distancing is still recommended for all travelers.

"It's definitely big news for airports. This just gives a little bit more comfort to those who are fully vaccinated and thinking about traveling again," Nipps said.

As passenger numbers grow, airport staff hope people will be mindful of one another. With a nationwide rise in cases, the CDC is still warning against travel.

"I would advocate against general travel overall. Our guidance is silent on recommending or not recommending fully vaccinated people travel. Our guidance speaks to the safety of doing so. If you're vaccinated, it is lower risk," Walensky said.

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