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Article Type: Blog

Steps to Take if You Plan to Travel This Holiday Season

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It’s been the year that somehow flew by and also seemed to drag on and on. Now, before we know it, the holiday season will be here, which means it’s time to start thinking about what your plans will look like this year.  

If you’re considering a smaller holiday at home, of course you will want to continue social distancing and wearing a mask around those who aren’t part of your household, but for those who plan to travel — we hope you will take extra precautions to do so safely.  

Check Travel Restrictions 

Some state and local governments have different travel restrictions in place that may include quarantine requirements or producing a negative COVID test when you arrive, or stay-at-home orders. Locations also vary in terms of what’s open and what events, if any, are being held. If you’re visiting family in another state or country, be sure to check with the local government at your destination to see what guidelines they have in place. 

Precautions for Safe Travel    

Depending on where you live and where you’re traveling, the COVID-19 guidelines will likely vary. Some areas require masks and limited capacity indoors, while others do not. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following steps to all those who choose to travel:   

  • Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public settings 

  • Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about two arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household 

  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth 

  • Wash your hands  often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol 

Keeping Car Trips Safe  

If you’re planning a holiday road trip, make sure your car is ready. It may be due for an oil change or a service check  if it hasn’t been getting as much use as usual.  

Some repair garages may have reduced staffing to allow for social distancing, so finding assistance for unexpected car troubles during your trip may take longer than usual. You can always call ahead to confirm hours.   

Once you’ve started on your road trip, try to limit the number of stops  you make along your route to limit contact with others who may be ill and to  prevent spreading germs from you and your family members. Pack hand sanitizer and cloth face coverings  for everyone. You may also want to bring disinfectant wipes to clean frequently touched surfaces in your car.   

Also, packing food and water in a cooler means your family can eat when they’re hungry, and it limits the contact  you’d have with other people in a restaurant or store. Other options that help you continue physical distancing include ordering food at drive-throughs or using curbside restaurant pickup services instead of dining in, the CDC says.   

The CDC also suggests using disinfecting wipes on handles and buttons at the gas pumps before you touch them and using hand sanitizer after refueling.  

Large venues,  such as sit-down restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship may be open. However, they will likely be operating with some degree of physical distancing measures still in place, according to phase two and phase three of the  Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. That may mean longer line-ups and fewer seats available at one time, so plan your trip accordingly.  

Safety on Planes, Trains and at Hotels   

Major airline and train operators have put enhanced cleaning protocols in place for your protection, but when you travel by plane or train, you will be sitting beside other people for some time. That means you still need to take additional precautions to stay safe.   

Several  airlines  are requiring guests to wear a face-covering throughout their journey, from the moment they enter the departure airport until leaving the arrival airport. They are also seating guests farther apart and encouraging people to bring drinks and snacks on board.   

Before choosing your flight carrier, if you decide to fly, you may want to look into their specific COVID-19 guidelines to find an option you feel most comfortable with. For example, some airlines are not allowing anyone to sit in middle seats to accommodate social distancing efforts, but not all are following this method.   

Amtrak  strongly recommends that guests wear face coverings on station platforms and trains. Some states are also requiring that customers wear masks in waiting rooms.      

If you are staying in a hotel or rental property, take the same precautions as you would in other public settings, says the CDC. That means frequent hand-washing, practicing social distancing and wearing a cloth face covering.   

When you get to your room or rental space,  clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces, such as bathroom surfaces, doorknobs, countertops and remote controls. Wash all dishes and utensils that are not wrapped in plastic before using, the CDC advises.  

After You Travel 

Hopefully you have a safe, enjoyable holiday with friends and family. As you return home, remember that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 on your travels, even if you feel well. You can be contagious without symptoms and spread the virus to others.  

For this reason, you and your travel companions may pose a risk to those you may come in contact with for 14 days after you were exposed to the virus. Regardless of where you traveled or what you did during your holiday trip, the CDC recommends taking these actions to protect others from getting sick after you return: 

  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol 

  • Watch your health and look for symptoms of COVID-19. Take your temperature if you feel sick. If you feel ill, you can visit a Centra Care location for a rapid result COVID-19 test 

  • Wear a mask  to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are outside of your home 

  • When around others, indoors or outdoors,  stay at least 6 feet (about two arms’ length) from other people who are not from your household 

Here to Support You  

As we continue to face the challenge of COVID-19, we’re dedicated to keeping you safe. Find additional coronavirus-related resources and information on the Coronavirus Resource Hub, available  here.    

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