'A lot of stress': Travelers react to new omicron variant, possibility of new restrictions

President Joe Biden could extend the travel mask mandate and implement tougher testing rules for those entering the country.

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Thursday, December 2, 2021
Travelers react to omicron variant, possible new restrictions
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Travelers at San Francisco International Airport had strong reactions to the omicron variant, some of whom, were hearing about it for the first time.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Reports came out Wednesday night that President Joe Biden could extend the travel mask mandate and implement tougher testing rules for those entering the country.

This comes as the omicron COVID-19 variant was detected in San Francisco and in more than 20 countries around the world. It also comes as coronavirus cases increase in much of the United States.

Temperature checks were being taken Wednesday night at SFO for dozens of passengers traveling to the Philippines.

RELATED: How SFO is working with CDC in preparation for omicron variant

"Since this new variant has struck, it's put a lot of stress on a lot of people, a lot of people haven't gotten the booster, some people haven't even gotten the shot at all," says James Stevenson.

Stevenson was headed to Bora Bora with his wife when we spoke with him. The couple actually has several upcoming trips, but are in favor of travel mask mandates being extended, which could be announced Thursday.

Tougher COVID testing rules may also be put into place, something that Stevenson says, would be costly.

"We just got our results back for our test which was 190 dollars apiece, so yeah it's a lot to deal with," says Stevenson.

VIDEO: Can omicron be stopped by current vaccine? Bay Area leads race to produce new variant's DNA

ATUM in Newark was the biotech lab that key researchers turned to when the delta variant emerged. Now there's urgent demand to get the omicron DNA.

As some foreign flight crews continue to gear up with full body protective gear, doctors are now urging caution for those traveling out of the country.

"If anyone out there is planning international travel, you may want to reconsider a little bit because you may be stuck at your destination for several weeks because those travel restrictions are literally changing by the day," says ABC7 News special correspondent Dr. Alok Patel.

But Kaila Los Reyes of the Philippines says she needs to come back here because her son will need his second vaccine shot. She had a strong reaction when she learned of the new omicron variant.

RELATED: Omicron variant sparks new vaccine research in Bay Area

"We have to deal with it, it's just there. The pandemic has been going on for two years already so, yeah it's the new normal," says Los Reyes.

Hande Sarilgram double-masked on her flight from Turkey, but says even with the new variant, not everyone is taking things as seriously as they once did.

"Most of the passengers on the plane, their noses were open, small kids are coughing all the time, they are not covered, maybe they have COVID also, I don't know," says Sarilgram.