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Thanksgiving is tomorrow: How will COVID impact one of the busiest travel days of the year?

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest travel days of the year. Travel is projected to be slightly lower this year due to the pandemic, as health officials recommend people limit travel as much as possible.

AAA forecasts that in Southern California, only about 259,000 [people] are expected to fly somewhere and even lower than that, only 29,000 are expect to take another mode of transportation," said AAA spokesperson, Doug Shupe.

The company forecasts a dip of about 7% for all modes of travel, and "air travel down almost 48%," said Shupe.

Daniel Meier, C.M. Deputy Director of Aviation Marketing and Air Service for Palm Springs International Airport, echoed that projection. He says because of the pandemic, they expect fewer people to be flying than normal: the airport is running about 50% of what they would usually see this week.

If you are going to be flying today, he recommends still arriving early as it’s busier than it has been in the last few weeks. "We’re definitely expecting a bigger rush going into the holiday season this year than we have seen the last several months since COVID started,” said Meier.

Meier also says the airport has new COVID protocols in place. Passengers should allow a little extra time for security with social distancing. Meier also stressed that a mask is required at all times here at the airport. 

For those choosing to stay local, expect more cars on the roads. It’s Riverside County’s official recommendation that people only celebrate the holiday with their direct household. However, for those choosing to make a short trip, they’re asking people to keep the visits “small, short and safe.” 

“Smaller, shorter, safer...meaning if you are going to do this, then let’s do smaller groups and let’s put them outside. Shorter meaning instead of a 6 hour, maybe we do 2 hours or an hour” said Jose Arballo, Public Information Specialist, Riverside County Public Health.

Arballo explained limiting the number of people and length of a visit can reduce one’s risk of spreading or contracting the virus. 

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Madison Weil

Madison Weil joined the KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 News Team in June 2018. Learn more about Madison here.

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