The Easter weekend usually sees the UK’s roads crammed with motorists heading out to visit family and friends, but this year is set to be a bit different. According to the AA, more than 20 million journeys have been cancelled this Easter as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

When the motoring organisation polled more than 16,000 members shortly before the lockdown, the results showed more than three-quarters (78 percent) had been planning to drive somewhere on holiday or an outing over the Easter weekend. The AA says that equates to around 26 million journeys.

Of those, nearly two thirds (64 percent) were planned for Saturday (April 11). Many of those trips would have been to visit friends or family (32 percent), while a significant percentage would have involved a drive to the coast or countryside (15 percent). However, with the nation enduring its third week of lockdown, families have had to postpone their plans.

Commercial vehicles driving on quiet motorway

The AA says drivers have generally been respectful of the lockdown measures, which are designed to limit citizens’ movement. The organisation claims weekday journeys are down roughly 60 percent on pre-lockdown levels, traffic on Saturdays is down 70 percent on pre-lockdown levels, while Sunday levels are down 80 percent.

There were fears of a big increase in journeys as the weather became brighter and warmer last weekend. In the event, though, the number of trips made by the public rose by a mere five percent.

Car driving on quiet motorway

“Transport ministers have made it very clear to us that cars should only be used for essential journeys and this applies as much to Easter as it has in the last couple of weeks,” said the AA’s president, Edmund King. “Hence Easter drives should be done on the PlayStation this year rather than the public highway. We all need to beat this pandemic together and that means restricting our movements to keep the pressure off the NHS and essential emergency services as much as possible.”

Empty road and terraced cottages in a English village

However, King confirmed the breakdown recovery operator would still be available to those in need, and would provide free cover to NHS staff.

“Over this Easter weekend we will also be doing our small bit to keep the NHS running,” he said. “We have offered a totally free roadside assistance service to all 1.5 million NHS staff which has been used hundreds of times over the first couple of days already. We will also have almost 200 patrols helping Ambulance Services across London, the east of England and the west Midlands to help service, repair and get more ambulances on the roads to help save lives.”