About 30% fewer Marylanders plan to travel for the Christmas and New Year holidays, reflecting a nationwide trend as many prepare to spend the winter holidays at home this year due to the coronavirus, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Nearly all of the 1.76 million Marylanders and 84.5 million total Americans who plan to travel between Wednesday and Jan. 3 despite the pandemic will go by car, according to the auto club. Almost 60% of those who usually fly and about 87% who take buses, trains or cruises to their holiday destinations planned to cancel their trips.
“While Thanksgiving is traditionally spent gathering with friends and family, the year-end holidays are when Americans often venture out for longer, more elaborate vacations. That will not be the case this year,” said Ragina C. Ali, a AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman. “Public health concerns, official guidance not to travel, and an overall decline in consumer sentiment have encouraged the vast majority of Americans to stay home for the holidays.”
Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, issued an executive order Thursday requiring any Maryland resident who travels beyond Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia or Washington, D.C. — and anyone who visits Maryland — to get a negative COVID-19 test result or quarantine for 10 days.
“Our message today is simple: You are safer at home for the holidays this year,” Hogan said at a news conference Thursday in Annapolis. “It will save lives.”
Maryland reported 2,265 new coronavirus cases Monday and 23 deaths tied to COVID-19, the disease the virus causes. The pandemic has killed 816 people in the state in December, the most of any month since April and May, which each saw more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also are asking Americans not to travel this year out of concerns about furthering the spread of the pandemic, which has killed 317,000 people in the U.S. and 1.6 million globally, according to Johns Hopkins.
The number of Marylanders staying home for the holidays could be even larger than AAA’s forecast, as many are waiting until the last minute to cancel their trips, based on rising case numbers and guidance from local authorities, the auto club said.
Thanksgiving travel was forecast to drop 10% this year from 2019, based on mid-October trip forecast models. While final travel statistics are not yet available, the drop in travel is expected to be closer to 15%-20%, more than the models predicted.
The auto club had released a survey of 873 Marylanders the week before, reporting that 90% people of in the state said they planned to stay home for Thanksgiving.