How to Travel During COVID pandemic.
Before you or your team/company even considered traveling, there are a few questions you must ask yourself and a few things you must be certain of before you hit the road.
Questions to Ask Before you Travel
Are the number of COVID-19 cases increasing, decreasing or staying the same at your destination?
Ideally, cases should be on the decline wherever you are traveling to, but its hard to predict how things could change day-by-day. The more cases at your destination, the more likley you are to get infected and to spread the virus when you return.
Are you at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or are you liing with someone who could be?
It's important to think about your own health when it comes to getting infected with COVID-19, but its even more important to think about others who may live with you or come into close contact with you on a regular basis. Older adults and those who have underlying medical conditions have a much higher risk of becoming severely ill.
Does your desitnation have certain requirements or restrictions for travelers?
State and local governments have certain requirements and restrictions for travelers based on where they are traveling from. For example, most states are requiring people to wear masks when they are around other people and when inside at stores and restaurants. In certain cases, you will be required to stay quaratined your place of residence for up to 14 days upon arrival. Check the indiviudal state requirements and restrictions here.
If You Do Travel
If you or your team has weighed the costs and benefits and have appropriately answered the questions above so that you know you and those around you will be safe when you travel and when you return, there are still things you must do before, during and after your travel:
- Even if the state and/or local laws do not have requirements for mask, it is in your best interest to do so. The mask should keep your nose an dmouth covered when in public spaces.
- Stay at least 6 feet apart from those who are not in your traveling party (i.e social distancing). During travel, it is best to keep groups small and separate to avoid spreading COVID-19 if one person ends up contracing the virus.
- Wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) as much as possible. Wash your hands thoroughly for no less than two minutes and use hand sanitizer in addition to washing heands, not as a substitute.
- Keep your hands away from your face - avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth even after washing your hands.
Types of Travel
Simply being in an airport - going through security, passing by other travelers, boarding and deboarding a plan and sitting next two various people - puts you in contact with people from all around the world. This makes social distancing very difficult and puts more importance on wearing a mask, washing your hands and avoiding touching your face even more important. Fortunately, airplanes do have very good air circulation and filteration - making it much harder for viruses to spread once you are on board the plane.
Bus and Train Travel / Public Transportation
With the surfaces of public transit likely being touched hundreds of times per day, bus, train and subway travel can be one of the most dangerous forms of travel during this time. You will want to avoid public transportation as much as possible by walking, biking, using your own car or even a rideshare app to limit your exposure to other people. However, if public transportation is necessary during your travel, here are a few things you can do to stay safe:
- Avoid touching the surfaces in public transportation - including the kiosks, digital interfaces and handrails before even getting on
- Wash hands for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer before and immediately after using public transit
- Avoid peak hours if possible
- Practice social distancing by remaining at least 6 feet away from other passengers and following guidelines of individual transit systems (required masks, specific doors for entry/exit, where to sit, etc.)
While this may be one of the safest forms of travel (especially if youre traveling by yourself), it is still important to keep in mind the COVID-19 safety precautions as you may be stopping for food, gas and bathroom breaks along the way. You will be coming in contact with other people and frequently-touched surfaces along your stops so remember to; wear a mask when inside gas stations, restaurants and bathrooms, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer after using a gas pump, and maintain a 6 feet distance between you and other travelers at rest stops.
After You Travel
After you return from your trip, there may be certain requirements you must abide by depending on state and local mandates. For example, you may be required to quaratine inside your home for 14 days after returning from a COVID-19 "hotspot"
Upon your return, you should be taking the same safety measures you did while you were traveling - stay at least 6 feet away from other people who are not from your household, wear a mask in public places to keep your nose and mouth covered, wash your hands often for at least 20 second and use hand sanitizer. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 on your travels, you may or may not feel sick. It is importantant to remain distant from others to avoid spreading the virus, even if you have no symptoms.
As always, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on COVID-19 and tips for traveling and keeping yourself and others safe.