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Pandemic Holidays: A look at travel and how transportation is coping amid a pandemic

Local News

Hotels, airports and road transportation are preparing for an increase in traffic

BROWN CO., Wis. (WFRV) – Travel always ramps up during the holidays and this year it’s no different.

Even amid a pandemic, heavy traffic is expected both on the roads and through the air. When the Covid pandemic first hit Wisconsin back in March, it seemed as though the whole state slowed down. With Thanksgiving and the festive period just around the corner, some will be looking to either hit the roads or soar the skies.

For Appleton International Airport- that meant seeing a reduction in traffic. According to the airport, they are seeing a 40-50% reduction. But with the holidays just around the corner, they’re prepared to see an influx of passengers.

“We do expect to see travelers get out there and traveling,” says Abe Weber, Airport Director of Appleton International Airport. “We’re hearing that people may want to avoid the large family gatherings and looking to escape, maybe, and get somewhere where they can enjoy the outdoors or get somewhere where they can control their own social distancing.”

And the staff at Appleton International Airport are making it easy for flyers to travel. They have masks available for those boarding flights, as well as new regulations for carry-on items.

“You can travel safely if you take your precautions,” says Weber. “Wear your mask, you use your touchless apps with your phone, you maintain your social distance. I was pleasantly surprised at the measures our airport as well as the airlines have gone to give me confidence in traveling.”

Austin Straubel International Airport also expect to see a rise in passenger traffic. A number of airlines are also making it flexible for passengers who may make a last minute decision on their travel plans. But the time to book is now.

“If your travel plans are impacted by Covid, there’s no cost to change your flight,” said Marty Piette, Airport Director of Austin Straubel International Airport. “All airlines are doing that- each airline is a little bit different in the terms. I would just encourage those that are traveling to check with their specific airline to find out what those rules are.”

With families expected to make some sort of getaway this holiday period, hotels and rental homes are also expected to see an increase in clientele. Hotel Northland in Downtown Green Bay say they’re seeing a nice uptick for Thanksgiving. They’re doing everything they can to make stays more accomodating.

“On the weekends we do offer full breakfast and Walnut Room,” said Kenny Didier, General Manager of Hotel Northland. “I think travelers will see, with us, an elevated product and elevated service levels and I think they’ll be happy with that.”

Meanwhile- at the Wisconsin DOT- workers have been tracking volume numbers at key highways and interstates since the ‘Stay at Home Order’ took effect in March. They’re seeing a return to normal, with numbers rising back to where they once were before Covid.

“There’s more cars and vehicles on the highways,” says Mark Kantola, Communication Manager with Wisconsin DOT. “We usually pull our crews off the construction projects but there is still quite a higher volume than you would typically encounter on a normal week day or weekend.”

With more people expected on the roads and ever changing road conditions, Kantola recommends it never hurts to plan ahead.

“It means looking at the radar- seeing what kind of weather conditions you’re going to encounter,” said Kantola. “If you need to know the road conditions, there’s a very simple way. Go to 511WI.gov. We have road condition reports on all major highways.”

You can also see where all major construction is taking place across the state by visiting 511WI.gov.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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