Memorial Day Weekend, widely regarded as the kick-off of the summer travel season, is here. Americans, tired of being closed in for months, are ready to travel. But, as the start of the summer travel season begins, Americans are stuck trying to juggle a myriad of state-by-state phased reopenings, as well as personal concerns about staying safe and healthy.
While many states, and the Centers for Disease Control, are still recommending keeping travel to a minimum and for essential purposes only, Americans have travel fever and many will take to the road, if not this weekend, soon. Those who insist on traveling should first find out COVID-related restrictions for their preferred destination as well as how under control the virus is in the state and/or city they’re planning to visit.
If you’re reluctant to hop on a plane, train, or other form of mass transportation, one of the safer options for travel may be by personal car, which is great for trips to nearby states. According to the Centers for Disease Control, regional neighbors Texas (8) and Colorado (17) are in the top 20 contagious states. All others in our region are in the bottom half of the list, including: including: Missouri (28), Nebraska (29), Kansas (31), New Mexico (37), Oklahoma (38) and Arkansas (39).
Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from inter-state travel around our region. Keep in mind, most border crossings at this time are synonymous with a self-quarantine period of 14 days. So consult the CDC’s website for state health departments all over the country at www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/healthdepartments.html
If you travel a distance that requires you to stay overnight, you should make reservations in advance. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, hotels in many states are operating at 25% or 50% capacity.
If you must stay in a hotel, motel, or rental property the CDC recommends:
When you get to your room or rental property, clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, remote controls, toilets, and sink faucets.
Bring an EPA-registered disinfectant and other personal cleaning supplies, including cloths and disposable gloves.
Wash any plates, cups, or silverware (other than pre-wrapped plastic) before using.
While the COVID-related restrictions by state are changing rapidly, one thing is for certain: it’s important to know the restrictions for the area you’re traveling to and for areas along the way. Most states have COVID-19-related websites, with updated information on openings and restrictions, you should check with the state before you leave and as you travel, since the rules change daily.
Here are a few of the restrictions we found by state, as they existed at our press time (05/20/20)
Restaurants: Open and will soon reach 50% capacity.
Attractions: Bars, bowling alleys, aquariums, zoos and museums are planned for reopening on May 22 with 25% capacity.
Hotels: Open with limited capacity of 50%, and many amenities, like room service, pools and restaurants are still closed.
Restaurants: On May 11, Gov. Polis said, “a decision on restaurant re-openings will happen May 25.”
Attractions: National Parks like the Rocky Mountain National Park plan to increase recreational access and services on May 27.
Retail: Open for curbside pick-up.
Hotels: Open, and due to international flight closures, operating at lower capacities. Pools and fitness centers are open – limited to five guests at once.
Restaurants: Open for dine-in service.
Attractions: Travelers may be able to enjoy a variety of entertainment, like movies, and other large venues. This applies to events such as amusement parks, concerts, and museums, Call ahead first, because businesses and other local communities are allowed to have stricter rules if they choose.
Hotels: Open and operating within phase-suggested occupancy levels.
Destinations: Most destinations in Missouri appear to be open, including Branson and popular lakes like Table Rock, Lake of the Ozarks and Big Cedar Lake.
More Restrictive: Kansas City, MO and St. Louis, both impacted heavily by the virus, have tighter restrictions.
GOING TO KANSAS CITY?
If you’re heading to Kansas City, things are fairly open across the metro area now that Wyandotte County has decided to align its phased reopenings with the State of Kansas. Up until then, KCK had the most restrictive conditions in the state. Just days ahead of Memorial Day, the Wyandotte Unified government decided to get in step.
If you’re planning a trip to KC, restaurants and retail are open. So are theaters, museums and most inside social facilities. If you like, you can get a your hair and nails done.
KCMO is following a 10/10/10 plan. Which means businesses can open for 10 people or 10% of capacity, which ever is larger.
Johnson County, like Wyandotte, is aligned with the Kansas plan. That means, bars aren’t open yet on the Kansas side. In Missouri, bars also follow the 10/10/10 plan.
Nebraska is one of the states that never had a stay-at-home order, and the governor is being very vague about reopenings. Here’s what we’ve found
Restaurants: Open at 50% capacity.
Attractions: All clubs, movie theatres and other recreational facilities have been ordered closed.
Hotels: Open; room bookings had slowed for a period but are beginning to rise again.
The state’s stay-at-home order ended May 4. Just in time to capitalize on Memorial Day weekend spending Kansas is rolling into Phase 2 on Fri., May 22.
Restaurants: Open if they adhere to proper public health guidelines and can maintain at least 6 feet between customers.
Attractions: Indoor leisure spaces are open including movie theaters, museums, bowling allies and organized sports following certain requirements. Casinos can open after their opening plan is approved.
Hotels: Open and operating at very low capacities.
New Mexico (37)
New Mexico’s state stay-at-home order is in effect until May 3, with stricter requirements in three counties in NW New Mexico hit hard by the pandemic.
Individuals are REQUIRED to wear masks in public.
Attractions: Many state parks are open for day use only. Other indoor leisure activities remain closed.
Retail: Open at 25% capacity.
Hotels: Open and operating at 25% capacity; pools and other amenities are closed.
Restaurants: Open for dine-in service following social distancing guideline.
Attractions: Personal care businesses, movie theaters, sporting venues, bars and gyms if they maintain strict social distancing and sanitation protocols are open.
Hotels: Open and operating at below full capacity; pools and fitness centers are closed.
Restaurants: The state allowed restaurants to open for limited dine-in service.
Attractions: Indoor venues such as theaters, arenas, stadiums, and casinos are open. Parks and state parks are open only for day use. Bars don’t open until May 26.
Hotels: Open and operating at the standard limited capacity.