States around the country have begun to reopen businesses. Tourist attractions and lodging are also starting to come to life. But are military families going out?
The Country is Open, But Are Military Families Going Out?
Based on our unofficial survey, military families are overwhelmingly playing it safe even as local communities are starting to reopen.
In our survey, 157 military families replied. They were asked a series of questions about their habits during the pandemic, the impact on summer plans and what they will (or will not) be doing to stay healthy.
Military Families Opt for Caution
Of those surveyed, 84.7% indicated that they had or were going to cancel or change summer plans. In addition, 96.8% of respondents indicated that they had changed their normal habits as the result of coronavirus infections in the US.
Only 3.2% of those survey shared that they had continued life as normal.
“We don’t go anywhere really except to get groceries and takeout,” shared one military spouse.
Another noted that they do not socialize with anyone right now.
Many of those surveyed noted that they had previously been very socially active, but that the pandemic had radically changed their lives.
“We used to have weekly game nights with friends, go out once a week, and go to amusement parks or museums once a month,” shared a military spouse.
Others have noted that they are spending a lot more time at home lately, organizing family game nights or ordering takeout.
An Abundance of Caution & Cancellations
Many in the military community seem to be using local guideline as one reason to stick closer to home, with 52.2% responding. An additional 56.7% cited infection rates with 26.8% noting death rates as causes for remaining at home.
In addition, many respondents noted that events had been outright canceled.
One person noted that a wedding they had planned to attend was called off by the venue.
Others noted pregnancy or young children as a concern that curtailed their normal activities as a result of COVID-19.
In addition, some noted concerns with distance learning, extended school year, quarantine periods and the lack of effective coronavirus treatments as factoring into their decision making process.
Outdoor Activities Favored This Summer
Military families seem willing to break self-isolation, but only to spend time in controlled outdoor environments.
Outdoor restaurants were preferred, with 63% of respondents indicating that they would likely eat-in places with this option. However, 50% of those surveyed said that they would be unlikely to eat inside at restaurants.
Other places high on the list of options for summer fun include:
- beaches: 76% likely
- nature trails or hiking: 91% likely
- playgrounds: 44.5%
- pools: 49%
Military families are unsure if they would be willing to visit libraries.
Some options received overwhelming negative answers. These include:
- bars with indoor seating: 76% unlikely
- bars with outdoor seating: 53.5% unlikely
- restaurants with indoor seating: 50.9% unlikely
- museums: 49% unlikely
- theme parks: 72.6% unlikely
- water parks: 73.2% unlikely
Military Families are Taking Precautions to Stay Healthy
Military families are largely in favor of taking recommended precautions to stay safe. Face masks are being used by 70.7% of respondents with 71.3% maintaining at least 6 feet of distance. 44.6% of families are limited interactions with non-immediate family members and 24.2% are limiting trips outside the home to necessities only.
However, 5.1% of those who took the survey indicated that they were taking no precautions.
Other ways that military families are staying safe include:
- increased hand washing
- using hand sanitizer more frequently
- opting for take-out or delivery
- limiting interactions generally
Very Different Summer Plans in 2020
Military families are noting the changes to summer plans for 2020. Many are noting the lack of summer vacation travel as well as limited or alternative camps for kids.
“We were planning on going to Maine this summer but regulations in the state prohibit visiting without 14 day quarantine,” one person responded.
Others noted that even local options, like playgrounds and water parks, were not available this summer.
“We had to cancel a vacation planned for June,” one military spouse explained. “There is also a water park down the road that we usually go to on the weekends that isn’t opening at all this summer.”
In addition to recreational travel, many families have had to alter their PCS plans this summer.
“Our PCS was delayed a month and my husband cant take leave to travel for the move,” one military spouse said. “He has to report to new duty station within 4 days of leaving current station.”
Others noted that even on-schedule PCSes were changed.
“We were originally planning a three week long cross country move,” shared one military spouse. “Staying at multiple national parks, visiting family, going to Canada, the whole spiel. Due to move restrictions and local restrictions that has been completely thrown out the window. Instead, we are now doing a straight shot across country as we are still moving in July. No side trips, no leave, just point a to point b in 8 days.”