With Thanksgiving arriving in two weeks, families are making holiday plans. While some will share Thanksgiving dinner with their household, others hope to travel out of state to be with friends and loved ones.
In the pre-pandemic world, it’s likely most didn’t think twice about flying long distances for the holidays. But in 2020, many have decided not to fly but to travel by car – which poses its own challenges. (If you care to know how avoid Covid-caused social distancing snags, click here.)
Air travel is complicated
When traveling via airplane, you risk being around strangers in close conditions, both in the airport and on the plane. Your baggage is handled by others, and you may be seated next to someone who has not been taking pandemic precautions. Although airlines have established guidelines to address the virus, you do have other options: there is always a road trip.
But even road trips can be a bit complicated. Many states issued travel regulations once the coronavirus began spreading at a dangerous rate; some have since revised them. Staying current on these changes could serve you well.
Travel is restricted
- If you plan to travel for the holidays, ask these questions:
- How many positive cases of Covid-19 cases have been reported recently in your home area and at your destination?
- Are you or anyone in your household at increased risk for severe illness because of age, health problems or recent exposure to someone with Covid-19?
- Does your destination have restrictions?
For example, New York recently relaxed its mandatory 14-day quarantine for people coming from another, non-contiguous state. Now, only contiguous states are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Under the new rules, you still must take a Covid-19 test within three days of leaving your home state, before arrival in New York. You must quarantine for three days after arrival, and, on the fourth day, get another Covid-19 test. If both tests are negative, you can exit quarantine.
If you were outside New York State for less than 24 hours, you don’t have to be tested before coming back, and you don’t have to quarantine. But you do have to take a test four days after arrival in New York.
Travelers from states that are contiguous with New York, as well as all essential workers, may travel freely between states, but they must still fill out a Traveler Health Form.
New York City itself has checkpoints run by its sheriff’s office to enforce quarantine. Travelers arriving at LaGuardia and JFK airports must fill out contact-tracing forms and agree to quarantine. New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, has imposed a $2,000 fine for those who do not fill out the form.
The states that have travel restrictions as of November 3 are Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
As of November 11, states with over 100,000 cases in the last seven days include North and South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
The AAA travel outlook
Today, Club Alliance AAA released its 2020 Thanksgiving Holiday Travel Forecast. AAA expects a drop in travel of around 10%. Up to 50 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving, a drop from 55 million in 2019.
If money is a little tight, here’s some news that will help Thanksgiving roadsters: Gas prices will be around 50 cents cheaper than last November. This October averaged the lowest gas prices in more than 15 years.
AAA and the CDC both advise travelers to plan ahead. Pack meals and snacks, and limit the amount of times you stop for gas because of the risk of coming in contact with frequently touched surfaces and other people. The CDC has published travel guidelines. Above all, the CDC reminds everyone to wear face masks and wash hands. A face mask is especially recommended when traveling on public transportation.
Packing an emergency roadside tool kit is also a good idea. Make sure you have hand sanitizer and masks if you go in a public setting. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after using the restroom and after leaving a public place. Consider carrying disinfectant wipes to use at gas pumps.
Samantha Lucero is studying nursing at Drexel University.