By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – “Back to Boston,” said Tarek Hassan, as he picked up his luggage at Logan Airport. “Back to the cold weather, back to reality,” he added.

He was among the many New Englanders who rang in the New Year in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. “Everything was open, unlike it is here,” said Benjamin Andrade, who is from Plymouth, New Hampshire.

“Most bars are open,” said Julia Florence, back from Miami. “Everything’s a little bit different. Everything’s open, people crowded, the beaches are unbelievably crowded, and most people from New England,” said her mother.

According to TSA, the number of passengers screened across the country Sunday was the highest since the pandemic began, with 1,327,289 passengers screened. At New England’s six airports, there were 33,699.

“The flights were definitely fully packed,” said Andrade. In part, that is because prices are low. WBZ found round-trips between Boston and Southern Florida ranging from $61 to $73. “The flights were pretty cheap.”

Governor Charlie Baker hopes it won’t come at a different cost. He’s watching COVID-19 rates, and hoping there won’t be a post-holiday spike like Massachusetts experienced after Thanksgiving. “I think the Thanksgiving thing was worse than this. But this isn’t over yet because we’re just a little bit past New Year’s,” he said.

The COVID-19 positivity rate in Miami-Dade County is at nearly 12%. In Boston, it’s slightly over 8%. Baker says he’ll check the numbers at the end of the week to determine if some temporary added restrictions on businesses can be lifted.

Christina Hager