Rising COVID cases, gas prices not enough to hold up Memorial Day travel – Orange County Register

To drive or not to drive?

With gas prices soaring and COVID-19 cases, that’s the question for Southern Californians this Memorial Day weekend.

Beth Probeus and her family of four take the plunge and head south to San Diego. Her adventures, she said, will include plenty of fresh air.

“We’re only comfortable with outdoor activities when Covid numbers rise,” the Mission Viejo resident and teacher said Thursday.

You will be among thousands of local residents visiting attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park and the new Sesame Place theme park.

More than two years into the pandemic, pent-up demand for travel is forcing millions of Californians to hit the road, said Ryan Becker, spokesman for Visit California.

“I want to get out, I want to travel,” he said, giving countless reasons for leaving the city. “I had to put my anniversary trip on hold, I had to put my 40th birthday trip on hold.”

Anaheim and its main attraction Disneyland, in case you were wondering, is one of the top destinations for out of town visitors.

The Automobile Club of Southern California predicts 3.1 million people will be traveling in the area this weekend, including about 2.6 million by car. Another 320,000 are expected to fly, clogging parking lots around airports.

Related: Delta is canceling flights to “relieve” pressure on operations.

Nationwide, AAA estimates 39.2 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home over the course of the holiday weekend.

Those projections — which include travel by car, plane and other modes of transportation like trains or cruise ships — are up 8.3% from 2021 and would bring Memorial Day travel close to 2017 levels. Estimates are still below pre-pandemic levels in 2019, a peak year for travel.

Gas prices in Southern California flattened this week after climbing to all-time highs. The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline hovered around $6.09 in Los Angeles County and down south in Orange County around $6.05. Inland Empire prices were just under $6 at $5.97 a gallon.

At a Chevron gas station in the Glassell Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Ricardo Estrada tried to guess how much the $6.49 a gallon Nissan work truck would cost him in total.

“I’ll take between $60 and $70,” the HVAC technician speculated, eyeing the display as the price continued to climb.

Estrada — who narrowly missed his guess when the pump registered $71.61 for 11 gallons of regular quality — has been forced to increase its business fees to customers in a bid to beat gas prices. He will be working over the bank holiday weekend but has planned a vacation to Arizona next month.

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