COVID-19 impacts Memorial Day travel

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OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – Memorial Day Weekend typically marks the unofficial kickoff to summer, but this year, travel trends will look different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Oklahoma has opened up sooner than other states, Dr. Dale Bratzler, OU Medicine Enterprise Chief Quality Officer, says travelers need to consider if their destinations have a higher number of COVID-19 cases.
“If you travel, think carefully where you’re going and what you’re doing, because there are outbreaks that are still happening,” he said.
Experts also say outdoor activities are typically safer.
Not only should travelers consider if a destination has an outbreak, but AAA is reminding people to check if places along the way are up and running.
“Look and see if the places you plan to go are even open, because there is a real mix right now of businesses you would expect to be open, even restrooms along the way,” said Leslie Gamble with AAA.
AAA normally puts together travel forecasts for holidays, but they couldn’t put one together for Memorial Day weekend because of the pandemic.
“It’s the first time in 20 years that there was so much volatility in economics, obviously social distancing and restrictions by the state that we weren’t able to predict what this weekend travel would really look like,” Gamble said.
AAA would look at trends in bookings, reservations, gas prices and unemployment to predict how many people will travel.
“This year none of those factors were available, and if so, they were so low that it made it statistically invalid to even make those type of projections,” Gamble said.

Whether you’re going to travel or not, experts say the bottom line is to keep washing your hands and practice social distancing.

“We would urge people to take precautions and plan ahead,” Gamble said.

AAA also says Memorial Day weekend typically marks the beginning of the “100 Deadliest Days for Teens”, because more inexperienced teen drivers are on the road. They say the risk is even higher this year because many teens are anxious to get out after shelter-in-place.

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