When winter break comes around, students are finally relieved of their academic responsibilities; after finishing midterms, the break is much appreciated. With these two weeks off, many students are typically traveling. However, this year has been anything but typical. With the coronavirus spreading trouble wherever it reaches, travel has become much more complicated. Therefore, restrictions have been placed on vehicles and political boundaries as well.
Respiratory droplets emitted by coughing and sometimes breathing aid in the spread of the Coronavirus. Often, people that contract the virus are asymptomatic, meaning that they don’t show any external signs of the virus and are usually unaware they have it. This makes COVID-19 even more dangerous since people who test positive may behave irresponsibly and as though they are not in the middle of a pandemic. Therefore, it is even more essential to take extreme precautions. When traveling and exposing yourself to new surroundings, you are advised to be very careful and follow strict rules.
The CDC includes on their website, “If You Travel: During your trip, take steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
- Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public settings, including public transportation and transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
- Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart (about two arms’ length) from anyone who is not from your household.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.”
These rules may be irritating, but they are only there for our safety and to protect lives. The steps apply to traveling in general, but what about specific types of travel?
Airlines have put in place special precautions to keep their passengers safe. United Airlines mentions, “We’re requiring United travelers to wear a face covering during their entire flight and in the airport, including at United customer service counters and kiosks, United Club℠ locations, our gates, and our baggage claim areas.” Furthermore, a significant concern for airplanes is recirculated air. This is worrying because if one person contracts COVID-19, everyone on the flight will be exposed to their breath containing virus particles. Delta Airlines comments, “All of our aircraft are ventilated with fresh, outside air, and any air that is recirculated passes through high-grade HEPA filters, which extract more than 99.99% of particles, including viruses such as coronavirus.” Additionally, airlines have altered seating arrangements to maintain social distancing along with many other safety protocols.
Moreover, there are specific guidelines for public transportation. This includes taking buses, subways, and trains. Public transit consists of people continually entering, leaving, and spreading their germs. It is recommended that passengers stay up to date with all information, social distance to the best of their ability, avoid touching surfaces, and keep their hands clean.
Notably, cruise ships have recently started operating again and attract many people. Many people were stuck on ships for weeks, not allowed to dock anywhere when the virus was first wreaking havoc in the U.S. in March and April. Since then, they have been shut down. Now, cruise ships are planning on setting sail at the earliest during January 2021. Henceforth, all information regarding ships are plans for the future. Royal Caribbean, a cruise ship company, plans to prevent cases onboard as they state on their website, “To develop our future boarding screening process and updated health protocols, we are collaborating with government health authorities, the Cruise Lines International Association, and our team of medical experts.”
In essence, the Coronavirus has changed traveling immensely. While these guidelines are present, the safest option would be to stay at home if possible. If there are any more questions, the CDC’s website contains safety protocols for bathrooms, rest stops, gas stations, hotels, and more.