Officials on the state and federal level are advising individuals to essentially stay put this holiday season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but more than 1.8 million New Jerseyans are expected to take a trip of 50 miles or more between now and Jan. 3.

The threat of COVID-19 is impacting travel throughout the state and country. According to AAA, New Jersey will see a decrease of more than 37% in holiday travel compared to 2019.

Ninety-five percent of New Jersey's holiday travelers are expected to move by automobile, AAA says. Four percent, or about 75,000 New Jerseyans, will travel by plane — that's down over 60% compared to last year.

"We're expecting it to be mostly local travel," said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

These numbers suggest the vast majority of Garden Staters will stay home this holiday season.

At his first coronavirus press briefing of the week, Gov. Phil Murphy implored residents to keep their holiday gatherings small, in order to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. The CDC, meanwhile, says celebrating virtually or with members of your own household poses the lowest risk of spread. For those who wish to gather, the CDC says the number of attendees should be limited as much as possible, with safety protocols in place, such as social distancing.

“Typically, lower gas prices are an incentive for last minute trips, especially around the holidays. But the lower prices and less traffic aren’t driving decisions to hit the road. Americans are looking to the public health landscape, including COVID-19 case numbers, to make their travel decisions,” Noble said.

In 2019, AAA anticipated record travel numbers ahead of the holiday season. Close to 2.9 million state residents traveled 50 miles or more.

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