“If we have a spreading event right now, with Labor Day, three to fours weeks later we’re going to have that surge of new cases, and it’s going to be really complicated,” Redfield said.
Some states are rolling out new coronavirus restrictions, while others are lifting existing ones. Cases are surging in some parts of the country and on the decline in others. Your options may seem limited, but there’s plenty to do with your time off while staying safe.
Here are some ideas, based on what we would do in a normal year.
Instead of a weekend getaway, explore your own city
Extra time off used to mean stealing away for a long weekend. This year, travelers are largely going to be staying home.
According to the Amex Trendex, a trend report from American Express, just 10 percent of people surveyed planned to travel over Labor Day weekend. The American Hotel and Lodging Association said hotel bookings for the holiday weekend are down 66 percent compared with 2019.
If you don’t go anywhere this year, you can try being a pandemic-friendly tourist in your own city. Explore your town’s parks, natural attractions and outdoor spaces.
Those who want to take a last-minute trip, try to find something close to home that you can reach by car to avoid crowding in major transportation hubs. Airbnb said most of its Labor Day bookings are for accommodations within 300 miles from home, and more people are booking cabins and tiny homes in remote locations.
Instead of attending a pool party, rent a pool
The greater concern is gathering with too many people, in or out of that pool.
An alternative to pool parties if you don’t already have private pool access is renting one. The Airbnb of pools, Swimply, is a peer-to-peer service that connects pool owners with pool seekers. In an interview with Newsday, a Swimply co-founder said the company has seen an influx in demand for hourly rentals during the pandemic. If the Labor Day weekend forecast looks chilly in your area, find a Swimply rental with a hot tub.
Instead of cramming at a table with friends, pack a socially distant picnic
A with pool parties, you can still safely hang out with your friends outside, depending on how you do it. Instead of cramming together and sitting face-to-face at a communal picnic table, try a socially distant picnic.
“Always low maintenance for a picnic. No silverware. No ice,” said Daniel Corey, executive chef at the Clift Royal Sonesta in San Francisco. “And never forget hats and sunscreen.”
Having grown up in California, Corey says he has had many beach picnics ruined by high winds and chaotic sand. Unless you have perfect weather, Corey would skip the beach and choose a grassy picnic with a spread of fried chicken or Italian sandwiches, cheese and crackers, and chocolate chip cookies, with wine or a pre-made cocktail stored in a thermos.
Andrea DeMaio, marketing director of the French bakery Maman in New York, recommends starting with a picnic blanket that has a waterproof lining on the underside, and she advises going full “cottagecore” by packing your picnic in a French basket.
For a picnic that feels like you’re weekending in France, bring along a fresh baguette, olives, cornichons, nuts and seasonal fruit to go with a selection of cheeses. “We love to have at least one soft, one hard, one aged, one blue,” DeMaio said in an email.
Instead of a tailgate, have a backyard barbecue
College football canceled in your state? Tailgate in your backyard instead. Mario Monte, the chef of Colada Shop in D.C., has tips for your grilling needs.
“When preparing for the grill, one of my go-to tips is letting the protein come to room temperature,” Monte says. “This helps to relax the protein and also cook it evenly. Nothing worse than overcooking a gorgeous piece of meat.”
His other piece of advice is to make sure you have both hot and cooler parts of the grill, so you can set ingredients off to the side to avoid overcooking.
Since it’s still technically summer, Monte recommends pairing your Labor Day grilling with gin and tonics, or chilled, easy whites such as vinho verde and sauvignon blanc.
Instead of heading to the Kentucky Derby, make mint juleps at home
Susie Hoyt, the beverage director of the Silver Dollar bar in Louisville, says the key components to a proper mint julep are crushed ice, high-proof bourbon (her favorite is Four Roses Single Barrel) and very fresh mint. To make a mint julep like Hoyt does in Louisville, take some of the mint, bruise it by slapping it against your hand, drag it along the inside of your glass to release its fragrant oils and discard the leaves before pouring in your cocktail. Make sure you have leftover fresh mint for a final garnish after you have poured in the cocktail.
As far as your Derby-viewing menu goes, David Danielson, the executive chef at Churchill Downs, released recipes for the folks at home to make, including turkey meatballs with peach hot sauce and bourbon rice crispy treats.