If you’re embarking upon any kind of journey amid an ongoing pandemic, you could probably use some practical, proven-effective pointers for keeping safe along your route. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we think about travel, including where we stay and how we arrive. Yale- and Harvard-trained ER Physician, Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, is one of the medical experts who has joined forces with Clorox to answer public health needs as society continues to battle COVID-19. Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine and also a mother of two, she shares some advice that might provide more peace-of-mind as you take that weekend getaway, road trip, or even a hop flight to see friends and family.
“Distance, Duration and Shielding”
Dr. Gillespie recommends that, while traveling or doing any kind of socializing, you should keep in mind three key steps for COVID-19 prevention: Distance, Duration and Shielding (i.e., wearing a mask). For families with kids, in particular, she suggests having children try out masks until you find a type that’s comfortable and help them get accustomed to wearing it before your trip. Regardless of your mode of transportation or accommodations-type, you’re advised to bring your own cleaning, disinfection and hygiene/protection products with you, rather than relying on having them available at your stops. Also, across the board, be sure to wash your hands immediately upon returning home, before eating or after using the restroom. You’ve heard this bit before, but vigilance is key.
Dr. Gillespie’s packing recommendations for inclusion in your carry-on bag are plenty of face masks, disposable gloves, hand-sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and your digital wallet or credit/debit cards.
When international travel to Belize resumes, hotels will reopen in a phased approach. The first grouping of hotels that will be allowed to accept international booking include properties that:
- Have achieved the Tourism Gold Standard Certificate of Recognition, and
- Provide full service to guests. This means that these hotels are able to provide all amenities, so as to contain the guest on the property, and minimize opportunities for guest interaction within the local community. Not to mention, these amenities include having transportation to offer pick-up/drop-off services from the airport; access to a restaurant on property; have a pool or access to beach front; and be able to provide isolated tours, limited to guests of the property only.
In addition, each Gold Standard approved hotel in Belize is expected to have the following implemented:
- Social distancing and the use of face masks while in public spaces
- Online check-in/out, contactless payment systems, and automated ordering/booking systems
- Hand sanitizing stations across the property
- Enhanced room cleaning and increase sanitization of public spaces and high touch surfaces
- Daily health checks for guests and employees
- Designated ‘Isolation/Quarantine rooms’ for suspected COVID-19 cases and action plans for handling suspected employees or guests.
A list of the Gold Standard recognized hotels are available here. If you’d like to implement cleaning on your own during your travel journey, the following methods are doctor recommended.
Travel safe when staying in a Hotel/Rental:
—Inquire about the cleaning/disinfection protocols and safety precautions being implemented at the property, and ascertain what new policies you will need to adhere to yourself during your stay.
—Wear a mask while you’re in public places, like lobbies and entryways, to prevent the spread of germs.
—Even if the room has been cleaned, you should freshly disinfect hard, non-porous, high-touch surfaces yourself upon arrival, such as doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, countertops, drawer handles, and curtain or blind pulleys.
—Even if the space appears clean, you might consider washing any dishes/cooking tools to ensure cleanliness.
Travel safe when going by Airplane:
—Before arriving at the airport, call ahead or do some research to discover what policies and protocols are in place that you’ll need to abide by. See what measures the airline or hub itself has implemented to keep its spaces clean and customers healthy.
—Prior to departure, ensure that you have safety and sanitization products onhand, such as masks, wipes and hand sanitizer.
—Once seated, use products to disinfect hard, non-porous, high-touch surfaces. That includes the seatbelt and buckle, tray table, armrest, window blind, and the buttons on seats and overhead compartments.
—Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after using the restroom.
—Wear your face mask properly for the entire duration of the trip to prevent germs from spreading.