Pandemic Plans for Memorial Day

May 21, 2020

Tradition has it that Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, marked by increased travel, barbecues, parades, and relaxing days at the beach. But this year will be different. 

For the first time in two decades, AAA will not issue their annual Memorial Day travel forecast, saying that the coronavirus pandemic has undermined the accuracy of their economic data. 

“Last year, 43 million Americans traveled for Memorial Day weekend — the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000,” noted Paula Twidale, senior VP at AAA Travel. “With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.”

Should we expect a similar slowdown elsewhere, in other activities that people commonly do on Memorial Day? 

Adding a Little Color to a Bleak Picture 

According to Zeeto’s survey of 2,016 Americans, AAA’s expectations of reduced travel are warranted. Less than 1 in 10 polled Americans plan to travel for either work or leisure combined, compared to nearly 5 in 10 who plan to stay home and continue to self-quarantine. 

When it comes to non-travel activities, Americans appear to be a bit more favorable. 36% of polled Americans would consider going to the beach or a local park (some by taking more precautions than others), which is more than ~ 3 in 10 polled Americans who wouldn’t feel safe.  

Although a larger share of polled Americans wouldn’t feel safe about going to a restaurant (~ 4 in 10), the number of polled Americans who would consider dining out is nearly identical to those who would consider going to the beach or a local park (again, some by taking more precautions than others). 

The Socially Distant Memorial Day 

Zeeto’s survey didn’t ask about other social activities, but it’s likely we’ll see similar patterns elsewhere, which will make for a very different Memorial Day. Nonetheless, despite airports likely continuing to look like deserted ghost towns, beaches, parks, restaurants and the like can expect to be somewhat livelier - but hopefully in ways that remain consistent with social distancing rules and recommendations.  

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