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Memorial Day weekend sees travel rush as COVID cases decline

Americans are on the move this Memorial Day weekend, putting aside pandemic restrictions to get a head start on summer. Large crowds are expected at many popular destinations on Monday – a dramatic change from a year ago.

Sara Blair, director of Hollywood Burger in Los Angeles, said the increase in visitors is a welcome sign of a busy summer ahead. “The last two days have been crazy,” she said.

CBS News correspondent Lilia Luciano asked, “What was business like these days?

“Super exciting, actually,” said Blair.

More than 37 million people planned to travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend, according to AAA, up 60% from last year.

Airports are particularly busy. While the AAA predicted that about 2.5 million Americans would be traveling to their destinations this weekend, the TSA said it had screened just under 5.5 million travelers from Thursday to Saturday. only – breaking that projection. This is a massive increase from the same period in 2020, when less than a million people passed through U.S. airports.

And this weekend marked a long-awaited reunion, especially for the Hays family, who are visiting grandparents in Arizona. They flew for the first time in over a year. “It’s been over a year since we saw them,” said Kara Hays.

Airports, theaters of happy family reunions, have seen a dramatic increase in traffic compared to a year ago.

CBS News

There are signs of recovery across the country, including the biggest sporting event since the start of the pandemic, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where 135,000 fans watched rider Helio Castroneves’ Indy 500 win.

And while the rain kept plenty indoors along the East Coast, there were crowds at Boston’s famous Fenway Park and the streets of Washington, DC, as well as beaches and water parks.

At Pacific Beach in Los Angeles, Lucy Rimalower said: “A real relief and a celebration to be able to be outside again and to feel safe and secure.”

The travel rush comes as COVID cases drop to the lowest number of new cases in more than a year – 12,663 on Saturday – as more than half of Americans (50.5%) are now partially vaccinated.

“It’s actually improving,” said Karen McPherson, visiting Mission Beach in San Diego from northern California. “We see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s quite refreshing.”

President Biden has set a goal of 70% of adults having at least one photo by the next big party on July 4.

A recent poll found that nearly 80% of those polled planned to travel this summer – more than double from last summer, well before the pandemic.

In Asbury Park on the Jersey Shore, CBS News correspondent Meg Oliver reports that the bad weather this holiday weekend could have really put a damper on business for the second consecutive Memorial Day. But despite the rain, the manager of Tim McLoone’s Supper Club said business was pretty good – the meals inside actually made up for the loss of seats outside. It’s another benefit of vaccinating people, which led New Jersey to lift its statewide mask mandate on Friday and announce that restaurants will soon be able to operate at full capacity.

And with a weeklong heat wave in the forecast, business along the shore is sure to heat up.

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