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Traveling now is difficult, and in many places it is impossible. But the borders have begun to slowly open - and this year's vacation already sounds like a plan, not just a dream. But how risky is it and is it even possible to protect yourself from coronavirus on vacation? Weigh the pros and cons together.
Over the past year, everyone has grown tired of worries, confusion and prohibitions. This article was written to help you decide whether or not to go on vacation in 2021. Bemorepanda explains you how it is going.
Tourism in the era of coronavirus: where can you go abroad now? And whether to go at all?
Some countries are opening borders and easing quarantine measures, but this does not add confidence. The question of whether it is safe to travel now is even more worrisome after the resumption of international traffic.
The answer depends on many factors: the way of travel (by plane, train, car, or something else), direction, fresh statistics on cases of coronavirus infection in a certain place, quarantine measures and current prevention methods.
Should I book a flight this year?
Long queues at the check-in counters, security checks at the airport, waiting for departure side by side with a crowd of strangers, several hours in an airplane seat in the same cabin with other passengers - all this raises doubts about the safety of flights during a pandemic.
But the good news is that airports and airlines have already adjusted to the new reality.
For example, carriers have introduced flexible rules for canceling and postponing flight bookings, and large air hubs are closing some terminals to ensure more effective security measures in a pandemic. There are also far fewer cafes and shops at airports. Some sell only takeaway.
The temperature is measured at anyone who enters the airport building: passengers, greeters, crew members, airport staff and everyone else. In some cases, non-contact thermometers and thermal imagers are used again - just before boarding a flight.
In public transport, taxis, in terminal terminals and during the entire flight, masks are required, and sometimes other personal protective equipment (face screens, for example) are required.
Social distancing rules are widely followed. Airlines are changing seating positions in aircraft cabins whenever possible, offering self-check-in instead of check-in at counters, and redesigning the queuing system so that passengers are at a safe distance from each other. The cabins of the largest carriers are equipped with HEPA air filters. Some air terminals have introduced one-way traffic through terminals to reduce the number of personal contacts between people.
The approach of airlines to in-flight meals has also changed: some carriers no longer serve food on their flights, others have cut down on the menu and offer only individually packaged snacks and drinks in cans. It's safer to take a snack with you from home - just check the airlines' requirements for food in hand luggage.
Isn't it dangerous to stay in hotels during the coronavirus?
Major hotel chains and small family hotels are well aware that in the era of the coronavirus, guests' demands on the hygiene and safety of vacation homes have increased.
To reduce the risks for guests, many hotels offer contactless check-in and check-out and virtual reception, but almost everywhere they abandoned the buffet and free use of pools and other public areas. In the hotels of large world chains, even the room service has been replaced with an application: you place an order through your smartphone - and it is left under the room door.
Social markings and machines with sanitizers at every turn are a new reality in the hotel world. Many good hotels use disinfectant mats, air ionizers and electrostatic filters, and offer guests free masks. Cleanliness in rooms is now more closely monitored than before the pandemic: in many hotels, tables with a schedule for the latest and planned cleaning have appeared, and the cleaning protocols themselves have become more stringent.
Most hotels around the world now allow free cancellation or modification of reservations up to 24 hours prior to the scheduled check-in date. And to make you even more relaxed, the cleanliness rating is immediately visible in the search results for hotels on Skyscanner. It shows you the hotel's hygiene standards and helps you make an informed booking decision.
Is it safe now to travel by car and is it worth renting a car on vacation from a hygiene point of view?
Analysts predict an increase in demand for car rental and car sharing during the pandemic, as these are safer alternatives to public transport. If you rent a car on a trip or drive a car sharing car, do not forget about safety measures: gloves, ventilation and treatment of contact surfaces with an antiseptic will never hurt.
Car rental offices are doing everything to ensure that their service meets safety requirements during the coronavirus period. The giants are investing in the development of machines that unlock automatically, that is, without keys walking from hand to hand. But that's not all: many measures to protect against COVID-19 have already been implemented.
For example, a car from Sixt can now be ordered, picked up and returned without personal contact with managers and agents. The keys are left in the locker, which you can access through the mobile application. Another car rental company, Zipcar, has already introduced a mobile car unlocking system: they have an app that replaces keys. Read about other travel contactless technologies.
Is it dangerous to travel by train until the COVID-19 pandemic is over?
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, railways strictly follows the recommendations.
Measures to ensure the sanitary safety of train passengers in our country are divided into two types:
Disinfection of trains. Before leaving the route, each train is thoroughly disinfected. Bed linen, which is given to passengers for rest and spending the night on the train, also undergoes additional sanitation.
Staff at train stations and on trains must wear masks and undergo a body temperature check before going on shift. All railway workers have received special training - they know how to take care of a passenger who has symptoms of SARS on the way, and of those around them.
Comprehensive disinfection is carried out at railway stations with the participation of specialists. A safe distance between passengers is also respected. The most walk-through places, checkout rooms, sanitary rooms, platforms, walkways and office premises are treated with special disinfectants. There are markings everywhere, and there are vending machines with sanitizers at the entrance, at the ticket office and in the waiting rooms. In some places, personal protective equipment (PPE) is issued.
Do they measure the temperature on the train and how is the railway being treated now?
On the way, train passengers are measured twice a day. If someone has a high rate, the conductors will exclude contact between the passenger and others and call an ambulance to the nearest station.
At least four times a day during the journey, the personnel must sanitize all surfaces of the rolling stock using means that prevent the spread of bacteria.
In addition to disinfecting bed linen and carriage surfaces,railways ensures safety in restaurant carriages. They use sanitization and checkerboard seating to maintain social distance, and all service personnel wear masks. If you do not want to visit the restaurant car, you can order any dish from the menu from the conductor with delivery to your place.
Similar rules apply at train stations and on trains abroad. Thorough multiple disinfection, social markup, checkerboard seating, thermometry, sanitizers, masks and contactless payment for services are used.