Covid-19 has challenged the travel industry like never before. With the distribution of the first rounds of vaccines underway, travel professionals are eager to resume operations safely and effectively. In this article, Drip Hydration explores the Health and Safety Guidance, based on 4 principles, published by the U.S. Travel Association under the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health experts. These principles will help you with safe travel agency reopening during the pandemic.
Create transmission barriers
Adapt operations, modify practices, and redesign spaces
The biggest part of travel agency reopening is that your business must embrace new strategies to protect staff and customers in the ‘new normal’. This includes:
- Training and educating staff and customers on their respective duty in keeping each other safe from getting sick
- Installing physical barriers between employees and customers like clear plastic panes
- Using highly visible cues like signs and floor markers, and redesigning public spaces to encourage physical distancing and reinforce preventative habits
- Promoting hygiene with sanitation stations
- Wearing and requiring masks and other PPE equipment like gloves
Implement touchless technologies
Revising procedures to reduce touchpoints required during transactions limits the chances of spreading the virus. Contact free technologies can be used to:
- Purchase tickets, goods, and services
- Validate identification
- Check in/check out
- Reduce lines
Enhance sanitation practices and standards
A cleaning and disinfecting regimen designed to prevent transmission of Covid-19 is essential for all facets of the travel industry. Practices should contain the following elements:
- An increased hand-hygiene policy for all employees at all levels
- New training for employees regarding new measures
- An upgraded sanitation schedule with more frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces using products effective against Covid-19
- Making cleaning supplies and sanitation stations available to employees
- Researching and appropriately testing new sanitation technologies
Promote health screening
Policies related to Covid-19 symptoms and exposure in your employees are arguably the most important aspect of your travel agency reopening and continued operations. Employee health screening programs should require that employees:
- Monitor their health
- Get annual flu shot
- To not go to work if ill, with or without symptoms
- To self-isolate if showing symptoms, awaiting test results, or diagnosed with Covid-19
It is important to balance the new expectations of employees with understanding of the challenges they face in the new normal. Employers must relax sick leave policies to allow employees to fulfill self-isolation requirements, and should consider allowing employees to take leave to care for sick family members. Sick leave policies must not be perceived as punishment for getting sick, or employees may avoid self-reporting exposure to or confirmed cases of Covid-19 out of fear for their employment.
Compassionate treatment of employees leads to higher morale and higher participation in non-mandated requests from management, like participating in public health officials’ contact tracing requests and utilizing telehealth services when available.
Travel professionals should also be ready to offer assistance to customers to stop the spread of Covid-19. Consider providing these resources to customers:
- Signage educating customers on Covid-19 symptoms and healthy preventative behaviors
- Guidance to local public health resources for guests in need of testing or treatment
- Communications encouraging travelers to stay home if they are sick, and cancellation policies that take unforeseen illness into consideration
Taken all together, these steps mean that you won’t have to revisit these travel agency reopening guidelines again following a workplace closure.
Follow food and beverage service guidance
Any travel business serving food and beverages should refer to the resources below to ensure the safety of both staff and guests:
- FDA’s Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the Covid-19 Pandemic
- National Restaurant Association’s Covid-19 Re-Opening Guidance
- ServSafe guidelines
The importance of testing
There is no denying the value of testing in preventing the transmission of Covid-19. Testing enables you to protect the uninfected and welcome employees back to work with peace of mind. Employers should consider distribution information on accessing tests among employees.
Employers should also be aware of the status of testing in their area when working with employees trying to access a test. Supply shortages and hours-long lines have been reported in areas heavily hit by the virus. Some businesses have chosen to use on-site medical services like Drip Hydration to administer tests to their employees. You can arrange for services on a one-time basis, or set up a contract for testing on an ongoing basis.
Local travel mandates and restrictions
We’ve linked the travel advisories for a few major metropolitan areas below. Anyone outside these areas should consult their local health departments or licensing entities for further guidance.
Staying Safe Before, During, And After Travel
Although the countries above are designated as safe places to travel during Covid, it is always best to exercise some caution before, during, and after travel.
- If you are fully vaccinated, you are not required to test before and after arriving from international travel unless needed at your destination country.
- If you are not fully vaccinated, testing before and after travel can reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 to your loved ones and ensure you take appropriate and timely treatment measures.
Drip Hydration offers a wide range of in-home rapid and standard Covid-19 tests to give you peace of mind before and after you travel. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by testing for Covid-19 in the convenience of your home. To find out if our in-home Covid-19 testing service is available in your area, please give us a call or book an appointment using the button below.