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How to celebrate Memorial Day during the coronavirus pandemic

Tent in the Yard Lisa RobisonMemorial Day, a day honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, is Monday. Normally, most communities have gatherings and people often travel in what has become the unofficial beginning of summer.

Last year, nearly 43 million Americans took a Memorial Day weekend trip. It was the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000, with the highest set in 2005.

This year, AAA isn’t making a travel forecast for Memorial Day due to COVID-19 impacts on the underlying economic data used to create the forecast. AAA anticipates this year’s holiday will likely set a record low for travel volume.

What are the options for Americans for celebrating Memorial Day in 2020, the year of the coronavirus pandemic?

Visit a cemetery. See if the cemetery you want to visit is open to family members. Have flowers delivered to your home to place on the grave. Go early so you can have a socially distanced visit.

Watch Memorial Day parades and ceremonies virtually. Check the internet to see what’s available in your area.

Take a walk or go on a hike. Walk in your neighborhood or walk in a park if you can maintain social distancing. Research hikes where it may not be crowded. Go early. If you arrive at the parking lot and it’s full, turn around and go home. Everyone in your group should wear masks. You don’t know when someone will come up behind you without you noticing or ride by on a bicycle.

Have a picnic or barbecue in your backyard with the people in your household. It’s the safest thing to do. Order steak, make a chocolate cake, or prepare other favorites. Make it special. If your state allows gatherings of up to 10 people or more, don’t be tempted. It’s too early. It’s not worth someone in your family getting covid-19 and possibly dying. A family from Tipton County, Tennessee, gathered for Easter and nine of them came down with covid-19. If you must invite people to a barbecue, check your state’s order to see how many are people are allowed. Then follow the recommendations in this article such as make sure guests have the same concerns about safety as you do; have the barbecue outside; use disposable plates and utensils; have everyone bring their own food except for what’s grilled; avoid finger food; have garbage bins outside; maintain social distancing between households; and wear masks for conversation.

Camp out in your backyard. Pitch a tent and make popcorn and s’mores.

Don’t go to the beach. Avoid going to the beaches in your community or nearby areas even if they’re open. Typically, they’re crowded and many people aren’t following the directions to wear masks and keep moving and not sit on a blanket or play a volleyball game.

Don’t go to a restaurant. Again, it’s too early. Studies show being inside increases the changes of getting infected by the coronavirus. Many restaurants are offering food delivery. Order from one of them. It’s safer than going out.

Don’t travel. In Washington state, some counties with lower cases and deaths are reopening faster than those with more cases and deaths. Don’t travel to other counties or states. Stay in your own community. Rural areas, with limited medical facilities, don’t need an influx of tourists to spread the coronavirus. Do take a drive in your neck of the woods.

Plan activities for kids. One idea is to draw flags and other patriotic items with sidewalk chalk. Or, try these red-white-and-blue crafts.

Watch a Memorial Day concert. Each year, PBS hosts a concert on the Sunday before Memorial Day. This year's concert, which airs on Sunday, May 24 at 8 p.m., features Trace Adkins, the National Symphony Orchestra, CeCe Winans, and others.

Plan a Zoom potluck with family or friends. Ask everyone to prepare a dish that reminds them of a family member and have them talk about the person.

Best wishes on Memorial Day. Stay safe and wash your hands.


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carol cassara

Some excellent advice fir us all. I hope people listen.


It's alarming to see people blatantly ignore warnings feeling their freedom is more important. Does that give them the right to infect others? Of course not. I've taken some walks. Being in nature is nice. Most people have been going with the program in Los Angeles, which is nice.


Hi Carol and Rebecca,

I hope people listen too about being safe on Memorial Day.

I'm glad people in Los Angeles are going with the program. It's so disturbing to see the crowds at beaches and lakes and even a water park that opened when it was supposed to remain closed.


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