Thousands fly through SFO before holidays, despite statewide stay-at-home order

Travelers returning or visiting San Francisco from outside the Bay Area now face a 10-day quarantine

Thousands of people have passed through San Francisco International Airport over the last week, despite increasingly stringent stay-at-home orders across the state.

From Dec. 15 to Dec. 21, a total of 109,283 passengers went through security checkpoints at SFO, according to airport spokesperson Doug Yakel. That’s down from 540,143 compared to the same time last year, for an 80 percent decline.

Though fewer people are traveling, the fact that anyone is leaving The City for the holidays flies in the faces of pleas from public health agencies and local governments to stay put.

San Francisco even imposed a mandatory 10-day quarantine order for anyone visiting or returning to the Bay Area from outside the nine-county region. It went into effect Dec. 18, and violations are punishable by a misdemeanor fine or imprisonment, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

However, SFPD has said enforcement will be used only if education and outreach efforts fail.

AAA Travel expects at least 34 million fewer travelers nationwide from Dec. 23 to Jan 3, as compared to the same time period last year, but as many as 84.5 million people could still choose to leave home.

There will be roughly 29 percent fewer total travelers during this holiday season, by AAA Travel estimates. Early breakdowns of Thanksgiving data show a drop somewhere between 15 to 20 percent.

In other words: More people are staying home now than did last month.

Trips by car are expected to take up a larger-than-usual share of travel over the coming weeks, accounting for about 96 percent of all travel, according to AAA Travel.

Though drivers will likely encounter cheaper gas prices than 2019, they’re still likely to experience delays of up to as much as triple normal drive times at some bottlenecks, especially in the afternoons, according to transportation analytics firm Inrix.

San Francisco roads will be especially jammed up Wednesday at 5 p.m., with the most congestion likely on US-101 North from Golden Gate to I-580, Inrix projections show.

In addition to San Francisco’s stay-at-home order, there are ongoing statewide restrictions that discourage non-essential travel, including recreation or tourism, and even ask residents to avoid driving more than two or three hours from home. Though there have yet to be widespread reports of enforcement, violators could potentially be slapped with a fine.

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