Along with traditional cemetery observances, Memorial Day travel is expected to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions and closures.
For the first time in 20 years, AAA will not issue a Memorial Day travel forecast, as the accuracy of the economic data used to create the forecast has been undermined by COVID-19. The annual forecast – which estimates the number of people traveling over the holiday weekend – will return next year, though anecdotal reports suggest fewer people will hit the road compared to years past for what is considered the unofficial start of the summer travel season.
“With social distancing guidelines still in practice, this holiday weekend’s travel volume is likely to set a record low.” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel.
Memorial Day 2009 currently holds the record for the lowest travel volume at nearly 31 million travelers, according to AAA. That holiday weekend, which came toward the end of the Great Recession, 26.4 million Americans traveled by car, 2.1 million by plane and nearly 2 million by other forms of transportation (train, cruise, etc.).
Current restrictions do not have to completely derail individual Memorial Day celebration plans. Though non-essential travel is still discouraged under the governor’s guidelines, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, does not consider travel within the state of Kansas to be criteria for any travel-related quarantine. If you are traveling within the state, though, KDHE recommends travelers be aware of local isolation and quarantine criteria as local restrictions can be more strict than state guidelines, depending on your destination.
On Tuesday, Governor Laura Kelly’s office released guidelines specifically geared toward Memorial Day travel and gatherings. The information includes both in-state and out-of-state travel guidance; tips for parties, gatherings and get-togethers, general health tips, and a list of other permitted and prohibited Memorial Day activities. This information can be found at https://covid.ks.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Safe-Memorial-Day-Guidance-5.19_Final.pdf.
If you are planning on traveling this weekend, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism encourages you plan ahead. To this end, KDWPT has provided a COVID-19 resource center on the state’s official tourism website, travelks.com for updated guidance.
As the phased reopening process continues, they also encourage travelers to call ahead to any businesses, attractions, or tourism centers they plan on visiting to determine whether they are open, and if open, what hours they are operating under.