Americans Speed Up Travel Over Memorial Day Weekend | Voice of America
Americans are celebrating the start of Memorial Day weekend by hitting the roads and skies as they seek to rid themselves of more than a year of pandemic restrictions and attempt to regain a sense of normalcy.
Memorial Day honors Americans who died in war and is also considered the unofficial start of summer and a time when people traditionally go to campgrounds, beaches, and state parks.
While travel suffered last year due to coronavirus restrictions, this year Americans are looking to return to their pre-pandemic routines.
US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urged Americans to be patient at airports this weekend.
“People will see queues because there will be so many people traveling this weekend,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Friday.
More than 1.8 million people passed through U.S. airports on Thursday, and that number is expected to rise over the weekend.
Mayorkas also reminded people that a federal mask mandate is still in place at airports and on airplanes.
The federal government and many state governments have relaxed masking mandates in many places for people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Now that a majority of Americans have received vaccinations for the disease, many are looking to engage in activities they haven’t been able to do in the past year, including vacations.
US travel group AAA said it expects a 60% increase in travel this Memorial Day compared to last year, with 37 million Americans planning to travel at least 50 miles from home , mainly by car. The travel boom comes despite rising gasoline prices.
The Reuters news agency reported that the price index for typical Memorial Day activities rose this year by about 4.3%, faster than the overall consumer price index. It listed higher prices compared to pre-pandemic tariffs for ready-made meals such as burgers and hot dogs, as well as higher prices for dinner and drinks, amusement parks, concerts and entertainment. car rental. Prices are below pre-pandemic levels for airline tickets and hotels.
The prices of many products have increased due to increasing consumer demand as well as material and labor supply issues.
US President Joe Biden began Memorial Day weekend by visiting an Air Force base in the state of eastern Virginia to thank US troops for their service.
Biden spoke about his late son Beau, who was a veteran, and told the military, “You are the best that America has to offer.”
The president also visited a climbing gym in northern Virginia as the state lifted most of its restrictions on COVID-19. Biden thanked Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and said the country has “gone from the pain and stagnation of a long, dark winter to an economy on the move.”
Some cities hope to continue to increase the number of Americans vaccinated even over the holiday weekend.
Beachgoers in Ocean City, Maryland and three popular Jersey Shore spots will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We’re going to allow beach goers to soak up the sun while getting their first shot,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday.