COVID-19 pandemic forces Americans to change Thanksgiving plans

COVID-19 pandemic forces Americans to change Thanksgiving plans

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - People everywhere are trying to find that balance between celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday and staying safe as COVID-19 cases continue to climb.

According to a recent survey by, 75 percent of Americans say the pandemic has changed their Thanksgiving plans.

“We surveyed a little over 600 people, around 630, and about 75 percent of those people in total said that they plan to modify their celebration somehow, while about one in five said that they weren’t going to make any changes,” said Ryan McGonagill,’s Director of Industry Research. “I think it’s safe to say everyone’s felt isolated to some extent this year. It’s natural for people to want to have some sense of normalcy, especially around the holidays. But it’s also important to, you know, take precautions so that you stay safe as possible. Looks like most people are taking that into consideration, which is encouraging.”

SafeHome’s survey says people between the ages of 30 to 60 were more likely to say their plans had changed. But, in general, 70 to 80 percent of people in all age groups say they are altering their plans somehow.

“Older adults, who we would classify as 60 years older, and then also younger adults, so about 18 to 29 years old, they were most likely to say that COVID, you know, hasn’t made them alter their plans at all,” McGonagill explained. “Most people are having smaller gatherings this year, so around 70 percent of people are having smaller gatherings. Nearly half said the meal is only going to involve members of their household. Other than that, smaller changes, you know, more handwashing, having people stay away if they are symptomatic, spacing out seating arrangements, maybe doing, you know, some outdoor dinners. The more aggressive measures were not as popular. So, things like quarantining for a week or two, maybe taking a COVID test temperature checks, only maybe three or 4 percent of people are going to be doing that.”

In a typical year, millions of Americans would be going more than 50 miles to celebrate Thanksgiving. If you ask McGonagill, this year is going to be much different.

“The majority of people that we surveyed, so almost 75 percent are not traveling at all; 20 percent of people will travel by car, and you know, the rest might fly, or they’re undecided,” McGonagill added.

McGonagill said politics might play a role in those decisions.

“I think this year, people might be experiencing a little bit of political fatigue. But it was an election year; we thought it was important to ask about that,” McGonagill said. “Around 65 percent of people who are Republican and voted for Donald Trump said that they would be changing their Thanksgiving plans compared to about 84 percent of people who are Democrats or voted for Joe Biden. So we can’t say why that is definitively that wasn’t part of the survey, but it is a difference.”

This survey also found that even those who don’t personally see the virus as a threat say their Thanksgiving will look different this year.

See the full results of the survey at this website.

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