How omicron COVID-19 variant is changing holiday travel plans

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The new omicron COVID-19 variant is already impacting international travel while domestic remains unchanged as the holiday season gets underway.

On Thursday evening, the Biden administration announced that starting Monday, Dec. 6, all travelers coming from abroad will be required to test negative within 24 hours of traveling to the U.S. regardless of vaccination status or nationality.

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One week ago, on Thanksgiving Day, no one was talking about omicron. Now it's on everyone's radar, especially as people anticipate flying to see family for the holiday season.

"There are people who are going to travel no matter what." according to Christopher Dennis who has worked in the luggage and travel business for 40 years. Among customers he talks to, he senses travel within the U.S. will carry on.

However, he is sending increased hesitancy among those traveling internationally.

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"They can't afford to get stuck somewhere in quarantine for X amount of days. They're taking a risk," said Dennis.

"You have to realize when you're traveling internationally all those rules about a quarantine, testing and vaccination status could all change at a moment's notice," said ABC7 News special correspondent Dr. Alok Patel.

Domestic travel is likely to be stable by comparison but Dr. Patel tells ABC7 News it's possible some individual states could end up re-imposing restrictions or testing like Hawaii did.

Some are glad they're staying close to home.

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But others say they're not letting omicron derail their holiday plans.

"There's always going to be new variants. I'm not going to stop life and seeing family because of it," said Steven Anderson of Walnut Creek.

One woman we spoke to says while she's still planning to fly out of state to meet vaccinated relatives she may be more cautious with her children in airports and on planes.

"What are you going to do? As long as the virus exists it's going to morph, it's going to change," said Pleasant Hill resident John Lopipero.

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