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COVID-19 precautions impact travel plans

THURS.| 11-26-20 | FEATURES

     On March 21, the U.S. announced the closing of its national borders because of COVID-19, and travel has not been the same since. Country-wide lockdowns initially left some citizens stranded in foreign countries, but the majority of travel regulations have been lifted and been replaced with less drastic measures. Nevertheless, travel is much more limited than it was pre-pandemic, and many travel plans have taken a detour either to accommodate regulations or for safety reasons.

     Junior Mary Bennett Billings is one of the many Rose students that has had their annual travel plans altered due to the pandemic. Her annual Thanksgiving tradition consists of a family gathering in South Carolina. This is now an issue because of her large family that usually attends the holiday gathering, which totals up to around one hundred relatives.

     Like many other families, the number of relatives attending this reunion will be significantly less this year, mainly since many of the elderly are choosing to not come. However, some value the importance of this event too much to miss it, even if it means risking their health.

     “We're trying to figure out the situation with my grandparents, like where they should stay and everything,” Billings said. “It is really important to them, and so we're going to go.”

     In order to make the situation safer for those that will continue to attend, some of the family’s usual Thanksgiving activities will have to be altered. These activities mainly include hay rides, hunting, horse riding and a square dance. Due to the fact that many of them already take place outside, Billings hopes they will be adjusted with ease. The square dance, which is usually held inside a barn, is a significant part of the gathering that will more than likely be altered to take place outside. Having all of these activities outside facilitates social distancing, leading to a safer environment for all attendees.

     Fortunately for Billings and her family, their annual traveling plans will only have to be altered instead of being completely canceled. However, this is not the first time that COVID-19 has come in the way of Billings’s travel plans; she had previously completely canceled a trip to see relatives in order to quarantine while she waited on test results of a friend that she had been exposed to. Even though the test results eventually came back negative, Billings had chosen to quarantine for the safety of her relatives.

     “I was like, ‘Man, this sucks,’ but it is worth it,” Billings said. “I do not regret it, because if I would have had it and given it to my grandparents…”

     Unlike Billings, Sophomore Brielle McGillicuddy is having to completely cancel her Thanksgiving travel plans because of COVID-19. Her family trip had been planned for months in advance, but

CDC Travel tips.jpg

Infographic by Kinsley Tate White

was canceled as a safety precaution as the number of cases hit record highs across the country.

     “We were practically set [on going], and last weekend my mom got a call from her sister and grandmother saying that they were concerned about going because they did not want to catch anything and did not want to bring anything back that would jeopardize my grandparents or their parents,” McGillicuddy said.

     Thanksgiving is usually the only time of the year that the McGillicuddy's are able to see this side of their family, so the decision to cancel this visit was not made lightly. Members of the family had mixed feelings about the situation, but ultimately decided to put safety first.

     “After a lot of talking and debating we decided against going to Athens, and staying here instead,” McGillicuddy said. “I was a little upset about it, but I know that it is for our best interests and especially my grandparent’s best interests.”

     Health concerns with relatives were the main reason for the change of plans; additionally, each family member has taken different approaches to quarantine, some more careful than others. Despite this, McGillicuddy still hopes that she will be able to see her family, even if from a distance. 

     “We do not know if we will even be able to get to see each other this year and that is a little disheartening,” McGillicuddy said. “Even if we do we would have to be outside and be very, very careful- I just have to have hope that it is going to get better” 

     Both of these students have had their travel plans affected by COVID-19, in more ways than one. When making travel plans with family for Thanksgiving during the pandemic, Billings advises that communication with relatives, especially the elderly, is key to a successful and safe trip. Knowing what accommodations will be made and what safety precautions will be put in place can help someone make their attendance decision, and it can often lead to compliance with these measures.

     COVID-19 has impacts on all areas of our lives, traveling included. Fluctuating travel regulations make it difficult for many to plan out-of-country, or even out-of-state trips. Due to this, along with growing uneasiness as the number of cases rises, many people have altered or cancelled their travel plans. Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, no one can say for sure whether these plans have been cancelled temporarily or permanently.

CDC travel guidelines

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