Despite the pleas of public health experts, millions are expected to travel on Christmas to family gatherings or winter holidays, fearing that the result could be another boom in COVID-19 cases.
In the US, the AAA predicts that approximately 85 million people will travel by car, most of them between December 23 and January 3. If true, it would be a drop of about a third from a year ago, but there is still a large movement of people amid an epidemic.
24-year-old Jordan Ford, who was posted as a guest-relations worker at Disneyland in March, said he plans to visit both himself and his lover’s family in Virginia and Arkansas over Christmas.
“It’s very safe – everyone is wearing a mask, they clean the cabin well,” said Ford, who has traveled almost weekly from her home in Anaheim, California in recent months, and often The test is done. “You leave on that first trip since the epidemic started, I think you’ll feel comfortable no matter what.”
Experts worry that Christmas and the start of the new year will turn into super-spreader events as many are lowering their guard – either out of epidemic fatigue or hoping vaccines are being delivered.
“Early on the epidemic, people did not travel because they did not know what was to come”, Drs. Said Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, “but there’s a feeling now that, ‘If I get it, it’ll be mild, it’s like a cold.’ ‘
The seven-day rolling average of newly reported infections in the US has increased from about 176,000 to more than 215,000 a day before Thanksgiving. It is too early to calculate how much that growth has increased due to travel and ceremonies. On thanks, but experts believe they are a factor.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says, “Postponing the trip and staying indoors is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.” Those who insist on traveling should consider testing for the virus before and after the trip and limit non-essential activities to seven days after the trip with a negative test result and if not tested If done, 10 days.
Other countries have imposed restrictions ahead of the holidays. Last month, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland agreed to allow a maximum of three families to mix between 23 December and 27 December, regardless of what the local restrictions are.
The ADAC Motoring Association of Germany says that leisure traffic will decrease sharply. The reasons include not only caution and government urges to avoid personal contact, but also the simple fact that many traditional destinations have been ordered to be closed, from the country’s enchanting Christmas markets to Alpine ski resorts.
Christmas markets, which usually draw large crowds to city centers for the Multani liquor smoke, have been canceled; The lockdown marked closed retail on December 9 as nonsensical.
Meanwhile, the usual pilgrimage via Autoban to the ski slopes, which usually begin on 26 December, France, Germany and Italy have ordered the ski resort to be closed. Limits are open but with significant limitations such as quarantine requirements.
In Latin America, some countries have imposed some restrictions to try to keep people away from traveling or meeting during the holidays, but others have advised people to only practice social distance and leave parties.
Panama has some strict measures, including a curfew from 4 January and a ban on exiting the home on 25 to 28 December and 1 January. Unless it is for necessary activities such as buying food or medicine. Peru, one of the most difficult countries in the region, has banned the use of private cars on Christmas Eve and Day and New Year’s Eve in hopes of discouraging people from traveling.
In the US, Rachel Watson delayed the wedding on her New Year’s Eve because her fiance’s family cannot travel to the United States from their home in Germany. Instead, the couple made plans and would travel to Hawaii with their parents, their brother and a friend from their home in Chicago. They chose Hawaii because of requirements that include coronavirus testing prior to arrival and rapid testing at the airport.
“We felt that if we were going to travel it was one of the very few safe options.”
37-year-old engineer Tim Brooks in Long Beach, California, canceled a trip to Grand Cayman due to a ban on international visitors, then a Christmas trip to his parents in North Carolina as California and the nationwide transition ended done. .
“If it were just us, it wouldn’t be so bad, but we have older parents and we’re trying to keep them safe,” Brooks said.
Airports and aircraft will have less congestion this year which is normally a high travel season. So far in December, air travel in the United States is down 67% from last year. If Thanksgiving is any indication, the number of passengers will increase the rest of the month, but airlines are warning that bookings have slowed since the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.
According to data from Airline Data Inc., the country’s top four airlines now show December and January schedules that are anywhere from 33% to 46% smaller than a year ago.
Last week, the average flight within the US was only 49% full, compared to more than 80% a year earlier, according to Trade Group Airlines of the US.
The short-term outlook remains critical for other tourism-related businesses, including those dependent on winter tourism.
In Vermont ski country, the Trap Family Lodge in Stop is usually sold out during Christmas week, but until last week only 96 rooms were booked. It was a similar story in the lodge near Spruce Peak. The operators of both lodges blamed travel restrictions, particularly the quarantine requirements that begin when they cross state lines.
“It’s basically frustrating as a business to not be able to do your job and support your employees or your community,” said Sam von Trapp, executive vice president of the family lodge. “At the same time we understand that there is great intention behind all these restrictions.”
Cruise ships often command their highest prices when children are out of school at Christmas and other holidays, but some ships are sailing this season. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Disney have canceled all American sailors through Feb. 28. Travels to other parts of the world have mostly been delayed.
Florida, which relies heavily on winter tourism, is also taking a big hit. The two-week period around Christmas is typically the busiest time of year for Walt Disney World in Orlando, says Len Testa, president of TouringPlans.com, which forecasts the park’s attendance. But this year, Magic Kingdom has limited the park’s attendance to 35%, so Testa expects about 32,000 people in those days.
Testa also expects that during March to March the level of congestion may be lower than normal, with many visitors rescheduling their visit in May or beyond.
“Many families will stop their spring break trips until they get vaccinated,” he said.
Tara Kelly planned to make a seven-hour drive from her home in Milligan, Orange City, Florida, to meet her mother and stepfather for Christmas. But Kelly’s wife recently had surgery and spent a day in a hospital where there was a risk of exposure to coronaviruses, so they called off the trip.
“We had been planning it literally since February,” Kelly said. “It’s a shock.”
Retired Theresa Medina, a 55-year-old from South Boston, is still deciding whether she and her husband will move from their mother to the Dominican Republic this winter. He is 80% sure they will, and he is already packing a box for the ship before his arrival. But the couple planned to discuss it with her husband’s doctor in January.
If they leave, Medina said they will perform coronovirus tests and wear protective gear, including face shields and masks.
“We may sound silly on the plane, but precautions are precautions,” she said.
Lisa Rathke in Montpellier, Vermont, Wilson Ring in Stowe, David Wunthug and Frank McHog in Frankfurt, Germany contributed to this report.
David Koenig can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter
D-N Durbin can be reached at www.twitter.com/deeanndurbin_ap