BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Vermont on Friday entered phase one of a two-step plan that will end the state’s pandemic travel restrictions by June.
Business has been picking up at the Burlington International Airport as more people here and around the country start hitting the road and the friendly skies. “The airport is alive. It is so exciting to see so many people here,” said the airport’s Gene Richards.
Friday marked step one of the Vermont Forward plan. Travelers visiting the must now get a COVID-19 test three days before they arrive. And Vermonters coming back need a test within three days of returning. This eliminates the mandatory quarantine when you enter the state. And if you’re vaccinated, you don’t need to get tested, provided you have no symptoms.
Richards says with more people vaccinated and loosened guidance, they’re seeing more travelers. “We just took down the old governor’s rule. We are in the middle of putting up the new governor’s rules,” he said.
Most travelers we spoke with say they have received the vaccine. “Nobody checked it yet. This is a bunch of nonsense. I’ve got it, it’s just a card saying I’ve got both vaccines,” said Rick Toby of Alabama.
“It makes it a lot easier. Feels safer to travel, absolutely,” said Anne Bandy of Brandon.
“Some people are still afraid. I’m going to give it 35 to 45 days to be absolutely sure. I’m going to wear the mask until the variants are fixed,” said Angilia Durham-Simmons of Iowa.
Ashley Cota of Essex says she just found out about the rule change. “I’m just going to get the test, follow the rules. I was planning on quarantining, so this is a little easier,” she said.
On the highway, drivers said the changes are a step in the right direction. “Yeah, I would like to get back to normal life,” said Robin Jarvis of Plattsburgh.
“Oh yeah, definitely looking forward to traveling this summer,” said Red Fox of Massachusetts.
But with COVID cases on the rise here and in other parts of the country, some folks are concerned that people won’t follow the rules, allowing the virus to spread. “To some extent, I think it’s good news. I’m not sure everyone is abiding by the rules, but I think it makes people feel better. It gives them some hope, and I think that’s what we need right now,” said Stephen Giroux of Windsor.
“Are they going to get the test? That’s the thing,” Durham-Simmons said.
Airport officials say they saw around 4,000 travelers this week and expect about 5,000 next week. That’s still about half of what they would normally see. But for perspective, they averaged around 800 passengers a week during the pandemic.
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