By Jay Dunn Republican-American
WATERBURY — In the best of times, holiday travel can be stressful. But 2021 has been no ordinary year.
With workforce shortages, high gas prices, unpredictable weather, and COVID-19 adding volatility to the mix, experts suggest planning and patience will make your trip easier.
For some, the Thanksgiving holiday will mark the first time they have visited friends and family in person since the advent of COVID-19 vaccines.
Whether you drive, take the bus, fly or travel by train, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes the following recommendations on its website:
- Delay travel until you are fully vaccinated. Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation before traveling. State, local, and territorial governments may have travel restrictions in place.
- Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required in indoor areas of public transportation (including airplanes) and indoors in U.S. transportation hubs (including airports).
- Do not travel if you have been exposed to COVID-19, you are sick, or if you test positive for COVID-19.
- If you are not fully vaccinated and must travel, get tested both before and after your trip.
BY CAR: The state Department of Transportation Office of Highway Safety is urging the public to “take extra caution when hitting the roads this holiday season. According to the most recent data, traffic-related fatalities in Connecticut are up nearly 16% from a year ago … The recent rise in traffic deaths is likely due to a variety of reasons, starting with the increase in speeding during the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said in a release Monday.
“If you think it seems more dangerous out on Connecticut’s highways and interstates lately, you’re right,” said CT DOT Commissioner Joseph Giulietti. “It is a real crisis. It’s happening here and it’s happening across the country. We are seeing an unprecedented increase in fatalities.”
“During the winter months and holiday season, we typically see an increase in crashes and fatalities – mostly due to impaired driving, distractions and hazardous weather conditions,” added Giulietti. “Combined with the speed and aggressive driving patterns since the start of the pandemic, we are pleading with Connecticut drivers to be more vigilant than ever.”
BY BUS: Bus services in and out of Waterbury have been severely curtailed due to the pandemic. The Travel Center at 188 Bank St is closed, and many of the major bus lines like Peter Pan or Greyhound no longer offer bus service either to or from Waterbury.
Local success story Land/Jet, a bus line whose owner, Charles Brady, was born and raised in Waterbury, is still in business. Brady said their services are in demand, but only for charter anywhere in the country. While requirements for social distancing have been relaxed, Land/Jet requires masks for everyone aboard their buses regardless of vaccination status.
BY TRAIN: New York’s Metropolitan Transit Agency announced a modified holiday schedule for the Metro-North Railroad with additional service to and from Waterbury.
Jose Murillo and his wife Eridania took the train on Tuesday from Waterbury to New York City. They are visiting relatives in the city, and love the convenience of putting their small bags onboard themselves. “We like the train,” Murillo said, “it’s easy.”
This expanded holiday service comes in addition to newly-completed safety upgrades to the Metro-North train line from Waterbury to Bridgeport and parts south.
BY AIR: Bradley International Airport is preparing for significant numbers of travelers during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In a release the Connecticut Airport Authority states, “While passenger estimates are harder to predict than in years past, with individuals now booking flights closer to their date of travel, the airport anticipates passenger volumes to be nearing pre-pandemic levels.
“The busy travel period runs through Sunday, Nov. 28th, with the busiest passenger departure dates expected to be the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday following Thanksgiving. Approximately 85,000 individuals are anticipated to depart from the airport during this time frame.”
Bradley’s advice to travelers is straightforward:
- Arrive early. With more individuals traveling during a condensed time frame, the airport will be busy. Passengers are advised to arrive at the airline ticket counter at least 90 minutes before their flight’s departure.
- Confirm your flight. Before coming to the airport, confirm your flight with your airline and consider checking in for your flight ahead of time.
- Plan for parking Parking closest to the terminal, especially in the garage, is popular and will be in high demand. Visit the airport’s website ahead of your arrival for the latest information on parking availability and follow directional signs at the airport to guide you to open lots.
- Bring a face covering with you. While many establishments have loosened their face covering requirements, wearing a face covering is required and federally mandated at airports and onboard aircraft regardless of vaccination status.
- Follow TSA screening guidelines. Have your credentials ready and pack properly to help speedup/speed up your screening process.For information, visit the airport’s website, bradleyairport.com