With the 2020 Olympics being postponed for a year, the pandemic’s long-lasting effects are becoming more uncertain. The rate of infection has seemingly decreased in Canada, allowing the provincial governments to announce the reopening of non-essential places in their respective regions. Even though non-essential travel is not recommended to far off places, many families think that travelling to different places is now a possible way to end the domicile.
Indeed, travelling can bring joy and create many great memories with family and friends; it can also turn 2020 into a better and more amusing year. However, due to the current situation, precautions must be taken and preparations must be done ahead of any trip. This includes research about current COVID-19 cases in your chosen destination, respecting the social-distancing measures, and packing the sanitary materials needed for the trip. Get answers to some of the most common questions about travelling, the safety measures and various ways of enjoying the last few days of summers here.
Travelling by Plane
The Federal government has placed strict travel advisories for non-essential travel outside of the country. This is due to the fact that many visitors may be in a situation where they cannot return. Also, people coming from other countries may bring infection with them. For example, a Canadian couple was stuck in Spain a few months ago due to increased health measures and border closures.
Today, travelling is perceived to be safer as compared to a few months ago when the pandemic had caused shutdowns everywhere. Some airlines are already re-entering the market. For international students willing to return to their home countries, public health officials recommend understanding the public health risks and checking the pandemic travel health notice. Additionally, the quarantine requirements of the destination must be taken into consideration while planning your trip.
Regardless of the regional restrictions within Canada, travellers will definitely have more options as airlines are gradually expanding their routes. Air Canada has already expanded to over 97 destinations and WestJet announced their route expansion two months ago.
Since sanitation is becoming more important and much emphasized upon, airline companies such as Flair Airlines, and Air Canada have started to take a proactive approach by implementing new “cleaning” programs. Flair Airlines now requires their travellers to wear face masks and get the mandatory temperature check up. To combat the dilemma of social distancing, the middle seats in Flair aircrafts are left empty, allowing customers to practice increased sanitation by staying a distance apart from others. On the other hand, Air Canada has started a “CleanCare+” program, with the idea being similar to Flair’s implementations.
Despite the increased awareness and precautionary measures, epidemiologists still recommend no air travel. So what can you do if you wish to travel but not take the airline route? How to enjoy the last few days of summer?
Take a Road Trip
Road trips are gaining more popularity this year for the purpose of travelling. In fact, researchers recommend you take this route over any other. Before planning a destination, a good practice is to scroll through the local public health department website and check the number of COVID-19 cases in different regions. It is advisable to pack your own lunch or eat at curbside restaurants in order to minimize the chances of catching the virus.
Throughout the road trip, always remember to practice social distancing and sanitize hands when in high-contact areas. Try to limit the number of places you visit in order to ensure that you and your travel partners are less exposed to the virus. When using a public washroom, try to carry disinfectant wipes or spray for sanitizing and find ways to limit physical contact between your family and others.
Travelling with Children and the Elderly
Before travelling, talk to your kids about safety and hygiene and prepare them for additional hours of sitting, extra handwashing and social distancing. Since children may not fully understand the situation, travelling by car is the most recommended medium. Most families would often book a ‘rental home’ instead of a hotel in order to limit their contact with other guests. If taking this route, it is recommended to communicate with the host beforehand. Also, remember to pack a safety kit in case your child feels uncomfortable when doing long distance traveling by car.
Sometimes, travelling by plane may be inevitable. This is especially true in case of emergency travels when time and distance both are determining factors and hold utmost importance. If this is the case, it is best to stay in your seat as much as you can, remain contactless with others, bring extra masks and sanitizers, pack plenty of food, and always disinfect. Families, who have taken this route reported less trips to the washroom and frequently disinfecting their seats. Although these practices are tedious, they are important to ensure a safe and contactless environment.
Should I stay in a Hotel or Airbnb?
Many researchers recommend staying at Airbnbs or rental cottages over hotels since there are less interactions and guests. However, this preference can differ from person to person and the situation as well. If the customer chooses to book an Airbnb, the host and traveller usually communicate over messages and there is hardly any physical contact. Remember to ask your host about cleaning standards, safety protocols, and questions about the overnight stay. Since each Airbnb is unique and dependent on the host’s actions, the standards vary everywhere.
Unlike Airbnbs, hotels have standardized cleaning protocols everywhere. The requirements for sanitation in a high-end 5-star hotel may be stricter as compared to most Airbnbs. However, despite the cleaning procedures, researchers recommend to NOT use the bedspread, decorated scarves, or pillows provided. Since many guests have already slept and used these items, travellers may be more susceptible to the virus.
Camping during the Pandemic
Believe it or not, but camping is actually reported to be one of the safer forms of recreational activities. The outdoor environment and large areas mean that travellers get more open space to social distance and plan their activities. Although going in bigger groups will increase the risk of susceptibility to coronavirus, families and peers who share a home or belong to the same social bubble should not face any problem.
Bringing your own food and medical supplies is still recommended as sharing can lead to cross-contamination. Attendees must be more respectful of the rules at camping sites as it is important for everyone’s safety.
Can I Go on Trips with Around 10 People?
Definitely! In mid-June, the government of Ontario announced that social gatherings of up to 10 people were allowed. This means that people who are part of the same social bubble, 10 or less than 10, can party together. As soon as the country started to reopen and more social interaction was allowed, the government termed the concept of a friend’s group as a ‘social circle.’ In order to stay safe and minimize the risk of transmission, one should stay in their own ‘social circle.’ This means that travelling with different groups of people is highly discouraged.
However, even within your own ‘social circle,’ physical distancing should still be emphasized, and masks must be worn throughout the trip. After all, knowing each other’s health condition is difficult and taking a proactive approach is necessary.
Travelling is a great way to end the historic summer of 2020. As much as we want to travel and enjoy the last few days of summer, we must not forget that the pandemic is not over. Better safe than sorry. Follow the safety guidelines and have fun on all your trips.