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Rise In COVID-19 Cases Force Travelers To Rethink Vacations

BURBANK (CBSLA) — As the Omicron variant sweeps through Southern California and across the United States some have decided to nix their holiday travel plans. 

"There are too many unknowns — too many unknowns here," said mother of two Wendy Bruns. 

Bruns and her family originally planned to visit her parents in Las Vegas over Christmas but because of the rise in cases and the highly contagious Omicron variant looming, the thought of accidentally passing COVID-19 to her senior parents, one of whom is immunocompromised, was too much to bear for the family of four. 

"I don't want to have that weight that one of us brought it to [them]," she said. 

School policies have also further complicated their holiday plans.

"Because their school requires a quarantine period after they return from out of state," Bruns said. "We just aren't able to go. 

Bruns is far from alone, as travel agent Melissa Wu has been fielding calls from clients inquiring about cancellations.

"I got a request on Friday, "Melissa, can you tell me what the cancellation policy is, we are going to cancel our trip," Wu recalled. "Today, I had two calls, one for a cancellation and another who wants to know how close to their trip can they cancel."

Fearing a winter surge, pulmonary critical care physician Dr. Thomas Yadegar canceled his outdoor holiday gatherings with family and friends. 

"It really becomes an individual choice," said Yadegar. "Looking at their risk profile and having a conversation with their physician. I do have a vulnerable population, those with cancer or going through chemo and are immune suppressed. I advise them to avoid those high-risk exposures.

According to Wu, the travel industry has been very consumer-friendly during the pandemic but travelers should still be wary of non-refundable policies. 

"Now airlines are waiving cancellation fees and they are giving you credits for up to a year but hotels with non-refundable policies are being much less flexible than they were before," said Wu.
Even with those non-refundable tickets and rooms, Wu recommends travelers continue to contact customer service to see if they can at least get credit towards another vacation.

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