Americans, it seems, are on the road. Spurred on by Covid-19 fatigue and promising signs in the battle against Covid-19–reducing infection rates, declining mortality rates and a huge push in vaccinations across the country–people are traveling again. However, new data suggests that travelers are not respecting quarantine and other state travel requirements.
RateGain is a travel technology provider, meaning that it powers bookings for Marriott, the Intercontinental Hotel Group, Kayak, and Priceline’s websites, among others. It has drawn the following conclusions about how far people are not adhering to current U.S. state-by-state travel restrictions and quarantine requirements:
- From its data, RateGain has seen a considerable rise in U.S. travelers “on the road” and hotel bookings at rates not seen since Labor Day in September 2019.
- RateGain believes that that the travelers are from out-of-state, based on the upswing in air travel. On March 18-19, for example, the TSA screened more than 1.4 million people each day at checkpoints (corresponding with the two highest numbers of travel bookings made in the past year).
- Reservation activity in the U.S. corresponds with the momentum in the vaccine rollout, as approximately one third of US adults have now had at least one shot as of this week.
- RateGain is seeing a 50% increase in hotel bookings in March compared with January. A number of nightly bookings have gone past the 30,000 mark, which is the measure hotels use to determine occupancy success.
- RateGain has tracked an 18% rise in hotel bookings every time the vaccine administration rate rises by 10%, which corresponds with the fact that bookings are being made on a more last-minute basis. (In the US, leisure travelers typically book 45 to 60 days in advance, but RateGain is seeing bookings between 7 to 21 days before travel in March).
- Some of the areas with higher hotel bookings are in places that do not have travel restrictions, such as Florida. However, what is surprising is that areas that do have travel restrictions–such as Chicago, which has 26 states marked as “orange,” or quarantine upon arrival–are also seeing upswings.
Chinmai Sharma, RateGain’s president added that “Chicago in particular is an interesting case.” Chicago is experiencing bookings in March which are three times that of January (which is when there was an initial surge in bookings based on vaccine rollouts). March 19 to April 4 is Chicago’s Restaurant “Week,” which usually brings in many out-of-state travelers and whilst much of the traffic might be from people who can travel from open states, there is also some likelihood that many travelers are traveling from the 26 closed states. The question is, how many of these people are following current quarantine requirements?
Moreover, as Johns Hopkins University reported Saturday an increase in infection rates of 10% nationwide over the previous week, what impact might this have on the trajectory of Covid-19?
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Travel increases the chances of spreading and getting Covid-19. The CDC recommends postponing all travel, suggesting that everyone “stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, even if you are vaccinated.”