As the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to rise, health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending against travel during the Christmas holidays.
The CDC’s website warns: “Travel can increase your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19.”
It also advises: “Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.”
CDC health experts also note that even if you and your travel companions, including children, feel well and are not exhibiting symptoms, you can still spread COVID-19 to family, friends and community after travel.
“If you have a known exposure to COVID-19, you should delay travel, quarantine yourself from other people, get tested, and monitor your health,” the website advises.
If you do decide to travel, be sure to take these steps during your trip to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, the CDC recommends:
- Check travel restrictions before you go
- Get your flu shot before you travel
- Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer
- Do not travel if you or your travel companions are sick
- Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when in public settings, including on public transportation and in transportation hubs, such as airports and stations
- Avoid close contact by staying at least 6 feet apart, about two arm-lengths, from anyone who is not from your travel group
- 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.
Traveling by air?
Here is some information that will prove useful to those traveling through Tampa International Airport:
- Masks are required for all employees, passengers and visitors at Tampa International Airport. The airport will provide masks to passengers, if necessary, which can be found at the information kiosk, in the main terminal. Masks are available for purchase at the airport’s newsstands. Masks should be worn over your mouth and nose at all times, except for when you are eating or drinking.
- There are social distancing stickers and markers throughout the airport, to keep passengers and employees at a safe distance from one another. Blocked seating exists at all gates, and there are plexiglass shields where passengers may interact with employees. Try to observe the CDC’s recommended 6 feet of social distance. As a point of reference, 6 feet is about the length of two rolling carryon bags.
- Wash/sanitize your hands frequently. There are plenty of sinks and soap, and also strategically placed hand sanitizing stations throughout the airport. Hand sanitizer and wipes also can be purchased at newsstands, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows passengers to carry up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in carry-on luggage.
- Go touchless. Use mobile boarding passes, fill a reusable bottle at water bottle-filling stations, and use touchless payment at shops and restaurants. All of the airport’s shops, restaurants and kiosks accept credits cards, and some allow you to swipe your card in front of sensors to pay without ever pressing a button. If you do have to exchange cards or cash with an employee, be sure to wash or sanitize your hands immediately after.
- Carry on your luggage when possible; that limits the number of hands touching bags. It also allows passengers to bypass baggage claims areas, and streamlines your journey from curbside to the gate, and back.
- Arrive early. For domestic flights, plan on arriving at least two hours early; for international flights, plan on arriving at least three hours early. That’s especially important, to avoid congestion at TSA checkpoints.
Traveling by car? These tips from AAA’s newsroom may prove useful:
- Plan ahead: Check with state and local authorities where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination to learn about local circumstances and any restrictions that may be in place.
- Follow public health guidance. Also, be sure to pack face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health. Also pack water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop along your trip.
- Before any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols, such as capacity reductions in common spaces, hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times and if all amenities are available, such as restaurant dining.
- Car rentals – If renting a car, ask what has been done to clean the vehicle. For extra peace of mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels.
Published December 16, 2020