The COVID-19 virus has, in so many ways, turned our world and lives upside down. For a while we weren’t even supposed to leave our homes or go to work.
Now that we can get out a bit, there are all kinds of precautions and procedures we must follow. It’s confusing. Go to Menard’s, and you have to wear a mask in store. There’s no such requirement at our local Lowe’s. We can now go to a wedding with up to 300 people attending, but we’re not supposed to dance. It seems like there are all sorts of hoops to jump through just to do the things we took for granted in the past.
We are now in the middle of what traditionally has been the vacation season. The kids are out of school (and have been for a while), and we’re starting to feel the warm onset of summer. We’ve been restricted for so long, it seems as if we are all itching to just go somewhere to relax and refresh our lives.
But now the big question of traveling in this coronavirus world is staring us right in the face: Can Americans vacation safely during the pandemic?
According to the experts, there’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of contracting COVID-19 while traveling. The Centers for Disease Control released these recommendations you can follow to reduce your chances of getting COVID-19 while on vacation:
• Never travel if you’re sick or have been exposed to COVID-19. That goes for everyone in your group.
• Always take a face mask with you for use in public places.
• Be prepared, in case restaurants, gas stations or convenient stores can’t serve you by packing your own food, water and hand sanitizer.
• Have fun at beaches, parks and other outdoor spots, but practice social distancing of at least 6 feet. If that is not possible, wear your face mask.
• If you’re visiting a pool, only take off your mask when you enter the water. On the pool deck, maintain a distance of 6 feet from those you do not live with.
• If your vacation plans include renting a car, RV or camper, be sure to wipe down all surfaces with disinfectant wipes, continue to wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
• If you are renting a car, boat, RV, hotel room or Airbnb, call ahead and inquire what precautions the company or host is doing to sanitize between rentals. Compare and choose the company you feel most comfortable with from a safety and hygiene perspective.
• Before leaving on your trip, check with state regulations, if any, for quarantine of visitors.
• If traveling by car, look for rest stops with large open bathrooms and lots of airflow. They are a much better option than gas stations with a single toilet.
• According to experts, if you’re flying, your exposure risk is greater at the airport and while being transported to the plane than on the plane itself. Again, wash your hands often, keep 6 feet from others while at the airport, if possible, and wipe down your seat and tray. Wear a mask the entire time. Masks, unless it’s an N95, generally help protect others from you.
• Every state is in some process of opening, so it would be wise to sign up for updates regarding any changes in policies at the location you intend to travel.
• Finally, be prepared for delays. It seems like the coronavirus has a knack for causing chaos.
With COVID-19 staring us in the face, the phrase, “Safe travels,” takes on a whole new meaning, so do your part.
Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.