Holidays in a World of COVID-19

Albion always looks festive downtown for the holidays, and while that might remain true, the holidays overall might look a little different this year (Photo by Temi Fadayomi).

According to reports from Business Insider, the average cost of domestic flights in the United States for November 2019 was $359. This year, that number has plummeted steeply to a modest $206 for the flight season that is typically the biggest of the year–the holidays. The apparent cause is COVID-19. 

Since March 2020, airfare prices have dropped steeply to match a significant drop in demand that is at record lows. This fact begs the question of what travel demand looks like relative to family gatherings this holiday season.

Given the pandemic, the expected response is to cancel those flights along with Thanksgiving and Christmas altogether. But for the United States, holidays are much more than the exchanging of gifts or the remembrance of events that inspired us long ago. 

The word holiday, for many people, is synonymous with spending time alongside family and friends. 

Although no laws are in place at this time regarding interstate travel, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington have united to urge residents to avoid all nonessential travel for the upcoming holidays. 

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer strongly advised Michiganders to cancel “large” Thanksgiving gatherings this year.  Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, the state’s chief medical official, advised people not to travel to see family and friends this holiday season. 

Brandon Gonzalez, a first year from Dearborn Heights,  said he would be using his break to see family members he hasn’t seen in a while.

“I don’t think it’s right to tell anybody what to do with their family,” said Gonzalez. “It’s an idea to limit family gatherings, but I don’t think very many people are going to listen to it.”

Many dissents have been heard over California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent issuance of mandatory requirements for California residents including limits on how many families or friends may interact and congregate in one setting during the holidays. The new California rule states that gatherings including more than three households are prohibited. 

Meanwhile in Michigan, Gov. Whitmer relied on the Michigan Department of Health and Human services to relay her next order indicating that Thanksgiving celebrations should be limited to only two households. 

Whitmer’s plea included statements like, “As hard as it is not seeing [family members] this Thanksgiving, imagine how much harder it would be if you weren’t able to see them for a future holiday ever again.” 

Realistically, no one knows what will happen from one day to the next. That being said, many people may believe that this Holiday season might be the last opportunity to see that one special family member. 

Some may laud these governors for their actions aimed at protecting the citizenry, while others will oppose. But the question remains – to what extent will people follow government directives when it comes to what happens inside homes and families, and how does this impact the holidays?

About Shannon Barba 22 Articles
Shannon Barba is a sophomore from Marshall, Michigan, currently double majoring in physics and computer science. After Albion, he hopes to attend graduate school at MIT. In addition to being Co-Marketing Coordinator for the Pleiad, Barba is the Engagements Chair of Student Senate, participant in the Prentiss M. Brown Honors program, member of the Student Volunteer Bureau, mentor for first-year students, pianist for Albion's Jazz Band, representative for the Committee of Student Learning, mentor for Harrington Elementary School, and a member of the Biochemistry Club.

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