CLEARWATER, Fla. - AAA Tampa said road trips are on the rise due to record low gas prices, but vacation destinations are changing this summer due to COVID-19.
The pandemic may have scraped your original July 4th weekend travel plans, but there are plenty of "staycation" spots in the Bay Area that may present a great alternative.
“There are so many folks who prefer to stay home, err on the side of caution. There are others who say ‘Hey, this is Independence Day. It’s tradition. I want to travel,’” said Mark Jenkins, AAA Tampa spokesman. “In terms of destinations, it’s oftentimes the open-air destinations, something that’s outdoors where you’re not going to be in a confined space with a lot of other people.”
Instead of long-distance travel, local or regional spots may be on the agenda. Visit St. Pete-Clearwater said it expects top destinations for Tampa Bay residents to be Pinellas County's beaches, boating activities, or parks and trails.
There are however, certain destinations you’ll want to avoid if you’re going for a quick getaway. Several states have now imposed quarantine orders on anyone traveling in from coronavirus hot zones, including Florida.
These states currently have some form of quarantine restriction that will impact those coming from Florida:
The city of Chicago has also issued its own quarantine order for any traveler coming in from a state with a high rate of coronavirus infection, like Florida. The order goes into effect on Monday, July 6.
If you’re crossing county lines, it’s a good idea to plan ahead for possible closures, altered operating hours, mask rules and other COVID-19-related changes.
“I think it’s just so important to do your research before you leave and that includes planning out what stops you’re going to make, including at gas stations, at hotels, and at restaurants,” said Jenkins.
If you’re unsure about what to expect in a different county, AAA has a COVID-19 travel restrictions website which lists, among other things, east coast beach closures.
“It’s a really valuable tool for people that are taking a road trip whether it’s to a neighboring county or a neighboring state. It tells you what types of restrictions are in place and if there are any closures to say rest areas or other public entities like that,” said Jenkins.
As for what to pack if you’re making a trip this weekend, travel experts said to bring plenty of hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and a face mask.
If you feel sick:
The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.
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