Labor Day weekend travel continues despite COVID-19 concerns

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LAKE OZARK -  Alhonna Resort & Marina's general manager, Sheryl Elia, said she was not worried about filling rooms for Labor Day weekend. 

"Memorial Day was great. Fourth of July was wonderful. This weekend has been wonderful," Elia said. 

All 60 units at Alhonna are booked this weekend, according to Elia. She said while there were concerns about if people would travel with the rising COVID-19 cases in the state, she expected to be booked out this weekend. 

That's because since the start of the summer season around Memorial Day, the resort has seen hundreds of guests each weekend. 

"Our weekdays were quieter, but every weekend was like a holiday weekend," Elia said.

Looking at room occupancy numbers, Elia said over the entire year, Alhonna Resort & Marina is down about 20% as compared to past years. But, she said from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the resort has seen room occupancy numbers up by 8% as compared to 2019. 

She said even though the COVID-19 pandemic isn't over yet, this weekend feels like normal. 

"The regulars are here, thankfully," Elia said. "I think the numbers will be up overall for the weekend as compared to the same time frame last year." 

The pandemic hasn't kept people from the airports this holiday weekend either.

One passenger at Columbia Regional Airport flew into Columbia on Friday for a wedding. Maggye McCallie, that COU traveler, said she wasn't afraid to travel this weekend because of the safety precautions airlines have in place. 

"No one's really talking to each other. Everyone is distancing. Everyone has their mask on trying to get from place to place," McCallie said. "I trust everyone to wear a mask and I never saw anyone really take them off and if they did, the flight attendants were like, 'Hey, above your nose.' Everybody was reminded." 

But, not everyone was willing to or able to travel for Labor Day weekend. The Missouri DHSS reports 1,232 new cases from Saturday, September 5. 

Some KOMU 8 viewers commented on our Facebook page about choosing to stay put this weekend.

"Well had I had the opportunity to go camping on a river I would have," Leah Anne Hayes commented on Facebook. "Since this was not possible and I am left in the city amidst our worst Covid 19 I am sheltering in place at home." 

"No I am not traveling," Tracey Garland commented on Facebook. "I am stuck at home in quarantine due to my partner being exposed to COVID-19." 

The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported Sunday afternoon in Missouri was 93,434.

While there is no clear end to the pandemic in sight, Elia said she can only hope business will continue to boom in the fall. 

"We have a lot of tournaments that rescheduled from the spring that are now coming in the fall," Elia said. "We still look to be full now until the end of October."