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Summer travel forecast calls for longer waits, fewer choices; plus the latest virus news

Summer travel forecast calls for longer waits, fewer choices; plus the latest virus news

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After a year of coronavirus lockdowns, the start of summer beckons with vacation plans made possible by relaxed COVID-19 restrictions. But a severe worker shortage brings a warning for travelers: Expect delays and pack a little patience.

Lifeguards and hotel housekeepers are in short supply. So are rental cars. And don't count on having a fruity cocktail at the hotel Tiki bar.

The labor shortage is hitting the nation’s tourist destinations just as they try to rebound from a year lost to the pandemic, where periodic surges in cases and lockdowns had Americans sticking close to home. Now, with more than half of adults vaccinated, Americans are ready to venture out with the traditional start of summer travel.

But the staffing issues threaten to derail the travel industry’s recovery. Travelers can expect fewer menu choices at restaurants, lengthy check-in lines at hotels and airports, and fewer rides and food stands at theme parks.

In other developments:

  • Americans are going back to one of their favorite pastimes: store shopping. With more people getting vaccinated and dropping their face masks, retailers from Walmart to Macy's are seeing an eager return to their stores after more than a year of their customers migrating online during the pandemic.
  • The Indianapolis 500 is set to become the largest sporting event since the pandemic hit in early 2020 with a reduced-capacity sellout crowd of 135,000 expected to attend Sunday's race.
  • Olympic athletes were told by the IOC on Thursday that a waiver they must sign releasing Tokyo organizers from liability for COVID-19 issues was “standard practice” for major sports events.
  • Facebook says it will no longer remove claims that COVID-19 is human-made or manufactured from its apps. The change comes “in light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts,” Facebook said.
  • Far more Americans are receiving unemployment benefits than the last time the jobless rate was at the current 6.1%, thanks to a major expansion of the federal safety net that has provided aid to millions of people out of work.
  • The first winner of Ohio's $1 million Vax-a-Million lottery says she's still having a hard time believing it. The winner of a full college scholarship also was announced.
  • Heart inflammation is rare in Big Ten Conference athletes who’ve had COVID-19 and in most it cases causes no obvious symptoms, according to the first data published from a league registry.

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