Safe, my mate!
South Africa is presently under lockdown Level 3 which means that international travel is not on the cards. Local and inter-provincial travel, however, is up for grabs and wow, does this beautiful country have much to offer to the holiday maker!
While the spectre of the COVID-19 virus hangs over all travel plans, the fact is, taking safety precautions is a good thing, whether or not you are travelling!
So, how to ensure you dodge that pesky virus and things to consider while planning your trip.
Rule 1: Be mindful of some of the scenarios you could encounter on your trip. Help keep yourself and your travel companions safe by being proactive and consider the following:
- So, what is the scenario of the place you are intending to visit, is COVID-19 spreading there?
- How safe is your community? Is the virus spreading in your community?
- On your trip, will there be two metres of space between you and your travel companions during or after your trip?
- Are any of the people who are traveling with you at high risk for COVID-19?
- Are you presently living or cohabiting with someone who is at high risk?
- Are there quarantine criteria in place at the destination that you are intending visiting?
- Will you be required to stay home for 14 days after travelling?
As long as we apply our everyday precautions to our travels, the risks can be minimised significantly. By maintaining the regulated distance between people and wearing a mask around those outside of our small circles, keeping sanitised and not touching our eyes, nose, or mouth if our hands are not clean, should stand you in good stead against catching the virus and keeping occurrences of COVID-19 transmission low.
Be safe in the car
While a fair proportion of holiday makers travelling locally prefer the family car as a means of getting to their destination, there are some precautions you should take before you hit the road.
You could start with thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the family chariot. Wipe down all areas that are high-touch surfaces (windows, safety belts, the steering wheel, door handles, controls, back of seats etc) and maybe also keep a batch of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser in the car.
Be circumspect about how many people you bring along for the ride, limit numbers in your vehicle if possible. If you’re traveling with someone who is at high risk for COVID-19 (the elderly, infirm or those with co-morbidities) and since you all can’t be six feet apart, wear masks in the car, especially when you’re traveling with someone who is not normally in your immediate circle.
Just as a Designated Driver is appointed for nights out on the town, designate a ‘runner’ for travel-related tasks before setting off. Appoint one or two non-high-risk people to pop in to grab snacks or buy petrol if you don’t want to pay at the pump. Ensure that the designated skivvies wear masks and wash their hands thoroughly before getting back in the car cocoon.
While driving to your destination, if possible, keep the windows open to allow fresh air to circulate and increase ventilation throughout the vehicle. If air conditioning is a must, set it to non-recirculation mode.
The other option is by air
While flying is still an option for local travel in South Africa, just keep the risks in mind when making that choice. If you’re sick or at higher risk for catching the coronavirus, it is probably best to stay earth-bound and the same applies to all friends or family members who want to travel with you. If flying is your option, just stick to the basics and follow the earth-bound safety precautions and you should be fine.
Protecting yourself at a hotel
It is predictable that if you are travelling any great distance out of town, you’re going to need a place to rest your travel-weary head. The options of a hotel, a B&B, or an Airbnb are generally the choices available. With a cautious approach, all can be safe and by asking the right questions beforehand, and following social distancing, you should be fine.
A good precaution is to look into the establishment’s cleaning and sanitising protocol before booking. As a rule, places disclose (and even brag about!) how they are going out of their way to keep guests safe. For example, some hotels are disinfecting more and offering online check-in and digital keys for guests, while others have implemented 24-hour vacancies for rooms in between guests to ensure a thorough disinfecting protocol is carried out. Holiday rental companies like Airbnb have established new cleaning protocols with which hosts are mandated to comply.
While all rooms should be thoroughly cleaned before your stay, nothing stops you from bringing along cleaning supplies to sanitise surfaces for additional peace of mind.
Continue to wear your mask in public, wash your hands regularly, sanitise high-touch surfaces upon arrival and don’t travel if you’re sick.
In short, be aware, be safe my mate, follow sensible precautions and enjoy your well-earned break!