The spread of COVID-19 has us all full of questions—especially when it comes to traveling. If you’ve been looking forward to a summer trip, wondering if you should stick to your plans or not, now might be the time to make some decisions.
A couple weeks ago, just having a plane ticket booked didn’t mean you had to cancel your trip. Well, now it kind of does. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a global travel warning advisory recommending people to cancel or reschedule all nonessential travel, both on airplanes and cruise ships.
The fees and conditions associated with canceling and rescheduling have changed dramatically in the last few weeks, but travelers have the upper hand right now.
It’s essential to understand nobody knows exactly how long “now” is going to be—you should definitely avoid any non-essential travel, so no matter the city or country you’re in, it’s a good idea to take precautions against COVID-19.
It is prudent for travellers who are sick to delay or avoid travel to affected areas, in particular for elderly travellers and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions.
General recommendations for personal hygiene, cough etiquette and keeping a distance of at least one metre from persons showing symptoms remain particularly important for all travellers. These include:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth mask around others.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- If you blow your nose or cover your coughs or sneezes with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash afterward.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using any regular household cleaning product. Having portable disinfectant wipes in your bag at all times is a good idea when you’re away from home.
- Wash your hands often, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds, but if you need special instructions for this—most people do—here’s a thorough guide.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Travellers returning from affected areas should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days and follow national protocols of receiving countries. Some countries may require returning travellers to enter quarantine.
If symptoms occur, such as fever, or cough or difficulty breathing, travellers are advised to contact local health care providers, preferably by phone, and inform them of their symptoms and their travel history.