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Many New Hampshire residents seem to have listened to public health officials and not visited family and friends over Thanksgiving break – or told their out-of-state relatives to stay home – judging from traffic the turnpike system, which declined sharply over the five-day period.

Traffic volume has been lower in New Hampshire since the pandemic began, of course. According to Department of Transportation figures, turnpike traffic fell more than half in early April after stay-at-home orders were first imposed, from 2.2 million trips per week to about 900,000. And even though traffic rebounded by the start of summer, it has remained between 15% and 20% lower than the same period in 2019.

Over Thanksgiving, however, traffic fell even more.

On the holiday itself, the state’s E-ZPass system at eight toll booths on the turnpike system registered 118,000 trips, which is less than half the 265,000 trips registered at the same tolls on Thanksgiving 2019.

For the five-day break from Wednesday through Sunday, the system recorded a total of 1.03 million trips, a drop of 34% from the 1.55 million trips registered last year.

In other words, traffic fell over Thanksgiving at least twice as much as it had fallen in previous weeks.

This is a hopeful sign for future COVID-19 numbers. Public health officials urged people not to hold family gatherings this year because they might spread the virus that causes COVID-19.

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