As Governors Lock Down, Millions of Americans Are Booking Thanksgiving Travel, Planning Parties

With COVID cases surging across the U.S. and officials rolling out lockdowns and restrictions to stop the virus spreading, ahead of Thanksgiving some Americans plan to flout the rules and celebrate as normal.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to only celebrate with members of their household or virtually, and urges those who plan to mark the occasion with others to try to stay safe.

In an attempt to ease pressure on hospitals caused by a virus that has already killed more than a quarter of a million people in the U.S., officials around the country have imposed restrictions and lockdowns that affect Thanksgiving.

Some of the toughest are in Washington state, Oregon, New Mexico and Michigan, where businesses are mostly closed. New Mexico also has a stay-at-home order, as does Ohio.

Other states like Oregon have limited social gatherings to six people from no more than two households. Washingtonians are prohibited from meeting indoors with people from outside their home, unless they meet certain criteria.

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee shared a video on Twitter where he and his wife, Trudee Inslee, urged residents not to gather with people outside their homes, whether for Thanksgiving or events like birthday parties, stating it is “too dangerous.”

In a turbulent year marked by the worst public health crisis in a century but also isolation and paused lives, Americans must weigh up their priorities and the risks they are willing to take when celebrating Thanksgiving.

A forecast from the American Automobile Association that 50 million people will travel for Thanksgiving is indicative of the choice of some. A survey by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found almost two in five Americans plan go to a gathering of more than 10 people. A third said they would not require guests to wear a mask.

Data from the trade association Airlines for America seen by Newsweek showed that airlines are expecting the Thanksgiving period to outperform surrounding weeks. Increased demand has prompted airlines to put on more flights.

Earlier this month, American Airlines added over 1,400 domestic flights to its schedule around Thanksgiving, and expects the week of November 23 to be its busiest since March. Likewise, JetBlue has added 25 flights from New York City over the Thanksgiving weekend, while Delta will boost capacity with over 3,800 peak-day flights per day during this period.