About 50 million Americans will travel for Thanksgiving this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest predictions by American Automobile Association (AAA).
In its report published on Thursday, the AAA said that it is expecting a 5 million, or 10 percent drop in the number of Thanksgiving travelers from last year. The group defined this year's Thanksgiving holiday travel period as a span of five days from Wednesday, Nov. 25 to Sunday, Nov. 29.
"Based on mid-October forecast models, AAA would have expected up to 50 million Americans to travel for Thanksgiving—a drop from 55 million in 2019," the group said. "However, as the holiday approaches and Americans monitor the public health landscape, including rising COVID-19 positive case numbers, renewed quarantine restrictions and CDC travel health notices, AAA expects the actual number of holiday travelers will be even lower."
The estimated 50 million figure would mark the largest one-year decrease since the economic crisis in 2008, the AAA said.
"The wait-and-see travel trend continues to impact final travel decisions, especially for the Thanksgiving holiday," said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. "The decision to travel is a personal one. For those who are considering making a trip, the majority will go by car, which provides the flexibility to modify holiday travel plans up until the day of departure."
As of Friday, all three West Coast states have announced new travel restrictions. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, are advising residents to reconsider non-essential out-of-state travel, and urging visitors traveling from another state or country to self-quarantine for 14 days.
In Chicago, residents are advised to stay home except for work, school, or needs deemed essential, and to revise their Thanksgiving plans that usually involve gathering with those outside of their household. Mayor Lori Lightfoot also encouraged restaurant workers to report their employers who defy the city's dining service rules.
"You must cancel the normal Thanksgiving plans," Lightfoot said Thursday. "Particularly if they include guests that do not live in your immediate household."
Similar restrictions are also imposed in New York, where the number of people that can attend a gathering in a private home is limited to 10 under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new order. Cuomo's statewide order also includes a 10 p.m. curfew for all bars, restaurants, and gyms, starting Friday.