Going on vacation? Here is how to reduce your risk of contracting the coronavirus

Dec 10, 2020 | News

Now might not be the best time to travel. However, cabin fever is reaching its peak as South Africans have been cooped up for months. And, says Johanna Read, wanderlust and family obligations can be powerful lures.

Read specialises in responsible tourism and has worked on issues ranging from pandemic influenza to refugee determination.

If you just have to get out for a holiday trip, there are ways to decrease your risks while on vacation. Whether you’re setting off by plane or car, Read helps you understand how you can protect yourself:

1. Transportation

The safest trips are ones where you avoid other people as much as possible. Drive directly to your destination, with minimal stops, and avoid public transport. Shop at home before your trip and pack your lunch and snacks.

If you must fly, do it safely. Choose a window seat as far from the restroom as possible, says Dr Farley Cleghorn, the global health practice head at Palladium, an international impact consultancy firm.

Cleghorn advises keeping the overhead vent open and toward your face. He explains that continuous airflow creates a small, invisible “wall” that restricts (at least slightly) the exhaled air from other passengers.

Disinfect your hands after you’ve settled into your seat and wipe down every surface you touch with a disinfectant.

2. Accommodation and sleeping

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a hotel or a boutique inn, says medical doctor Abe Malkin. It’s more important that the property has a good record and follows recommended guidelines. An isolated cottage or villa is preferable, and access to your own kitchen and laundry facilities gives you more control over cleanliness.

Many hotels and lodges have protocols in place to ensure they do not put their guests at risk of contracting the coronavirus. It is important to check whether the facility you are planning to stay at complies with government regulations.  Most accommodations have implemented extra precautions and cleaning services.

Moreover, look for employers that provide employees pandemic support such as training, PPE, sick leave and fair pay, which translate into a safer environment for everyone. Check websites for details or ask them directly.

3. Eating out

When it comes to eating out, key risk factors include the following: setting (outdoors over indoors), the size and airflow of the space, the number of people sharing the venue, and the amount of time you spend in the restaurant.

Eat on a patio where you’re at least two metres away from other diners and where everyone (staff and customers) wears a face mask except when eating or drinking.  Avoid peak times to minimise exposure to others, and don’t linger.

Keep an eye on your waiter: it’s easy to spread germs if they pick up a dirty dish from the table next to you and then bring your dinner without washing their hands.

You don’t need to wear gloves as touching a contaminated surface may expose you to the virus, whether you use gloves or not.  Washing your hands and sanitising frequently is the way to go.  Of all the precautions you can take while on holiday, maintaining social distance is still the most important to curb the spread of Covid-19. If you visit tourist attractions, opt for places where you can enjoy the scenery from your car.


National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/2020/07/if-you-must-travel-now-how-to-stay-safe-coronavirus/

East Coast Radio: https://www.ecr.co.za/lifestyle/family/going-vacation-during-pandemic/