Responsible Travel in the Corona Era

To travel, or not to travel in Summer 2020? That is a good question.

With restrictions slowly being lifted across the world, our thoughts turn to the summer and the many places we would like to visit. While anyone in the vulnerable categories should probably avoid travelling this summer, there is hope for the rest of us as long as we follow the guidelines put forward by experts. One thing is for sure – travelling will be different.

Where to go on holiday this summer

Travel to “affected areas” – areas where Corona is still experiencing transmissions of the virus are best avoided and you might not want to go too far off the beaten path to remote areas where there are limited response capacities. Staying fairly close to home is also a good option.

Public transportation, including air travel, is also something to be considered carefully. Being in an enclosed space with other passengers where air circulation is limited may pose a risk of getting infected. Airlines and airports around the world may put in place testing to ensure that all passengers test negatively for corona before being allowed to board planes. Some governments may restrict air travel altogether. This would greatly reduce the risk, but it remains to be seen what will be implemented. Domestic travel is likely to open up before international travel to reduce the risk of re-infection.

It is likely that there will be common health protocol in place across the EU for citizens travelling in Europe.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has the latest information here and will update accordingly.

The Situation in Greece

Diving and Sailing activities here in Greece are banned until the 20th of May when we will find out whether we can cautiously start our activities again. Year-round hotels are scheduled to re-open on the 1st of June 2020 and seasonal hotels will remain closed until the 30th of June, as long as the curve remains flat. The government may require testing of all tourists arriving in Greece, whether by plane or car. Greece’s proposal to the EU on safe travel is expected to be announced by 15 May 2020 and more public announcements for the tourist sector are expected on the 18th of May 2020.

At the moment Greece is being promoted as a “safe country” and as a “safe destination” and Greece’s tourist season 2020 is expected to begin on the 1st of July. Greece has had few cases of COVID-19 and, at the time of writing – a week into more relaxed measures – there appears to be no further spread of the virus. It remains to be seen what will happen and each traveler will ultimately decide for themselves, according to the guidelines set out by the authorities.

Those who are ready to venture out will have to navigate the new normal – here are some tips about traveling in the time of COVID-19.

Get tested

Get tested before you leave home and carry a medical certificate with you. This ensures that you are healthy to travel and won’t transmit or re-introduce the virus where you visit. Another lockdown would devastate many small and medium businesses in tourist areas, so getting tested benefits everyone. Protocol may dictate that you are tested as you arrive at your destination.

Travel by Car

The car may be the safest way to travel. Take a holiday this year somewhere that you can drive to. You and your family can avoid contact with crowds in closed spaces on public transport. Plus roadtrips are fun!

Insurance

Make sure your travel insurance includes repatriation if you get ill, including private helicopter transport from remote areas.  Make sure you know how to get in touch with your embassy while abroad and what services they offer.

Accommodation

Rent an apartment, camp, or charter a skippered sailboat. Make sure that updated corona hygiene standards are being kept. You will have the chance to prepare your own food and drinks too.

When eating out, make sure that the social distancing guidelines are being kept at the restaurant, bar or cafeteria. These local businesses will really need your support, so if you are not comfortable with sitting, at least order a take away or see what other options are available.

Support small, locally owned businesses

Mom and Pop stores are often family run and anyone who is still open for business is in need of your tourist bucks. Please don’t expect low prices as any small business who is open for the season will have spent their reserves setting up shop for the summer. The same goes for small hotels, rental rooms and tourist boats.

Conform to the Guidelines

Keep social distancing regulations, wash your hands regularly and have a supply of masks and anti-septic with you. Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing. Refrain from touching your face as much as possible. The debate about masks rages on with some stating that a medical mask is not required if you are not sick. However, in some cultures, masks may be commonly worn so have a look at what the locals are doing and follow suit. Follow best practice guidelines on how to wear, remove and dispose of them and on hand hygiene after removal.

The Great Outdoors

Being outdoors in the fresh air is a great way to stay away from crowded places and reduce corona-anxiety. If you have always wanted to try camping, sailing, biking, hiking, or a kayaking trip – now is a great chance. If you choose an organized trip, make sure your tour operator complies with the new hygiene standards. Let your kids run on the beach, go canoeing, help reef in the sails, or cycle between villages.

Ultimately, everyone needs to decide for themselves whether to travel and to where. Here in Greece, we have managed to flatten the curve and new infection rates and deaths from COVID-19 are very low. Prudence is always advised, however and we must all do our due diligence during and after this pandemic. Remember that transmission of COVID-19 depends on the time you are exposed and the distance you are from an infected person.

Get in touch with us for an update on the situation in Greece.

By Merryn Wainwright

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