With the arrival of the Omicron variant as international borders open and the holiday season upon us, what do travellers need to do to stay safe when travelling for the holidays? Here are six tips to consider before booking any holiday travel plans that will keep you and your family safe:
Vaccinations support building protection against viruses.
- First and foremost, get vaccinated if you are not yet (this includes COVID, Flu, and any others needed depending on how old you are, where you are travelling, and what you intend to do).
- Even if you have had COVID three or more months prior, this is recommended as protection from a previous infection is not 100%, and reinfection can occur.
- Travelling overseas increases your risk of exposing yourself to variants not prevalent in your home country.
- Get a booster if you are entitled to it.
Avoid public gatherings and poorly ventilated dense environments as much as possible.
- Airports are expected to be particularly crowded. Queueing at security and boarding lines could occur, making social distancing challenging, but do your best to remain vigilant and distance as much as can be accomplished.
- Be cautious of densely populated events like Christmas markets, concerts, shows, etc.
Know the local regulations for wearing a mask.
- With the arrival of the Omicron variant, we recommend wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose anytime you are indoors and on public transport.
- While there is no need for N95 masks, which can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods, you might consider wearing one intermittently if social distancing is not possible.
It may be in your best interest to carry a self-administered test, e.g., antigen tests.
- A self-antigen test that meets criteria can be used to enter certain countries, saving you the time and energy scheduling a COVID-19 test via a third party.
- Self-administered tests can provide results in less than 20 minutes, which can help indicate the need to quarantine and help stop the spread.
- Have a backup just in case a unit becomes damaged during travel.
Don't forget to practice common sense and basic health hygiene.
- Wash your hands frequently for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
- Do not travel with anyone that is sick or is exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
- Avoid touching common surfaces, touching the face, and putting hands in the mouth.
- Travel with hand sanitiser and disinfecting wipes. Due to COVID, some authorities have allowed for additional and temporary exemptions with regard to the carriage of sanitiser gels / liquids. Therefore, if you intend to take sanitising gels in the amount exceeding the standard restrictions, please contact the airport of your departure or the airline you are flying with to obtain updated detailed information on the applicable regulations. Since these containers exceed the standard 3.4-ounce allowance typically permitted through a checkpoint, they will need to be screened separately. This will add some time to the checkpoint screening experience.
- United States - TSA allows one liquid hand sanitiser up to 12 oz./passenger
- Canada - CATSA permits passengers to carry one bottle of hand sanitiser of up to 355 mL in addition to their normal 100 mL liquids in a 1 L clear resealable bag.
- India - passengers may carry up to 350 mL of hand sanitiser.
- Europe - UK & EU do not have exemptions on hand sanitiser, and as such, their 100 mL rules still apply.
- Australia - domestic passengers do not have any limits on quantities of liquids. International flights are bound by the 100 mL rule.
Worthwhile metrics to consider for this safety assessment include, but are not limited to:
- Are case numbers rising or falling?
- Are COVID related hospitalizations rising or falling?
- What is the prevailing variant and how transmissible is it?
AVAILABLE RESOURCES & LINKS:
Be sure to know the status of your destination and any entry requirements (testing), as well as quarantine and contact tracing rules/regulations. These regulations are changing at a regularly rapid pace, so be sure to stay up to date by viewing travel recommendations and guidelines provided by local government and health authorities. This will help you evaluate your family's level of risk and whether it's the right time to take a trip.
Members can access this information and much more through the COVID-19 Pandemic site within the MedAire Member Portal.