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Socializing and traveling get second thoughts during the latest COVID surge

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - If you are thinking twice about socializing during the latest COVID omicron variant surge, you are not alone. It's been apparent many people are changing their plans.

The travel and tourism industry has seen a drop in business, and an increase in reservation changes.

Restaurant owners expecting to see more customers during the current phase of sunny days recently still notice a drop and especially with larger groups.

At Holdren's Restaurant, owner Clay Holdren said, "yeah there's a whole segment of the population that doesn't want to be around big groups of people and it's tough right now."

 One student from Turkey,  here for about five more months says she is careful, but she's not going to miss seeing the U.S.

Emine Yuksel said, "I try to be careful about the Covid  but for visiting some place it is normal for me because  I can't stop Covid."  She said she traveled, safely in December. "On Christmas, I was at New York,  Chicago and Niagra (Falls)."

Business owners say January is already a slow month and the covid surge is adding to that. Even though there may be some changes with outside seating in the future, they are happy with the use of the extended space now.


One resident leaving town on a father-son trip was not going to be set back. "We're flying tomorrow morning at 7:30!" said Josh Webb while sitting with friends Friday at Joe's Cafe on State Street.

He is going to the midwest for a Saturday night San Francisco 49ers - Green Bay Packers game.


"I don't know that we would necessarily be traveling but for the fact that the 49ers are playing Green Bay at  Lambeau Field. My son has never been. (I'm a )   die hard 9er fan," said Webb.

He said he has confidence in the airline industry with their health and safety protocols and is not hesitating, even though other travelers might think differently.


There's also some optimism that this set back will be just that, and healthier days are ahead.

Webb said, "I think you are seeing in terms of numbers like omicron dying down a bit,  I think people will start going out again in late February and early March."

It's still unclear if the good weather will beat out the COVID fears,  but for those who rely on hungry and active customers, it's been a lean January. 


Speaking to his employees, "I actually warned them a few months ago, start saving your money  because it's going to be a rough winter and that's what it is so far," said Holdren.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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