How to travel safely, shop, and board a plane as states reopen their businesses during the coronavirus pandemic: “Opening doesn’t mean social activities.”


A coronavirus vaccine remains far away, but orders to stay home in many states are starting to rise, if they have not already.

That means millions of Americans can walk out their door and go to reopened retail stores, restaurants, gyms, parks, and other public places across the country.

You will find a world that is very different from the last time you visited a doctor’s office, traveled, had a cup of coffee, or sat at your office desk.

For example, under state law, Georgia hairdressers must take the client’s temperature. Colorado rules will allow employers to fill their offices with only 50% of their workforce, and Florida retail stores can only fill up to a quarter of their capacity.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. USA They say that everyone, from workplaces to schools to homes, should come up with plans for when to clean (which removes germs and dirt) and when to go further and disinfect (which kills germs on surfaces).

So that people can begin to return to everyday life, but should they? And how to do it now that social distancing is the slogan to stop the spread of COVID-19?

The question of “should” is a choice that everyone will have to decide for themselves.

Regarding the “how”, MarketWatch analyzed the various scenarios that people may have to navigate.

Reconsider your travel routine and work habits.

Millions of Americans have been working from home since March, but at some point their employers will want them to return to the office.

Forty percent of employers told Mercer, the human resources consulting firm, that after the shelter-in-place standards are finalized, they will keep employees working remotely until they consider it safe to return. Approximately 20% of companies surveyed said they would ask workers to return as soon as possible.

About 60% of the companies surveyed said they would alternate workers at the site; One tactic was change based on alphabetical order.

Returning to work means traveling, potentially on a bus or train, and spending most of the day in an office with break rooms, conference rooms, restrooms, and other shared spaces.

Visualize every part of your travel routine from home to work.

People should visualize every part of that routine from home to work, said Dr. Tista Ghosh, senior medical director of Grand Rounds, a healthcare platform that helps users with appointments and questions about billing and diagnostics.

That means watch out for all the rails, buttons, handles, and seats you can touch on the go. A traveler can avoid them, bring gloves, or do both, he said. Don’t forget a face mask, he emphasized. If there are discomforts in using it, Ghosh said to think this way: “It doesn’t protect you, it protects others … it’s like you’re doing your part.”

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In the office, people should abandon their habits of sharing office supplies for now, Ghosh said. He also advised people to bring their lunches and bring them to their desk instead of eating in a break room. “Trying to keep the workplace safe means not meeting,” he said.

That may sound antisocial, but there are ways to avoid it, such as a video chat with a coworker, Ghosh said.

The CDC also has tips for cleaning a workspace. There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting, the CDC notes. Cleaning removes dirt and germs, while disinfection kills germs. Disinfection should be done after cleaning.

People should develop their plans on when to clean and when to disinfect, the CDC said.

For example, an area that is “unoccupied for 7 or more days only needs routine cleaning,” the CDC said. Meanwhile, a surface that is often touched by many people, such as the door handle, desk, phone, light switch, or faucet, needs cleaning and disinfection at least daily, the CDC noted.

Don’t wait for a waiting room in your doctor’s office.

The room in which doctors examine you will not look much different from the days before the coronavirus. But everything before and after your appointment can.

Doctors across the country have begun implementing social distancing measures to see the patients who need their care the most. This all starts by removing the waiting room in many cases or setting a strict limit on the number of people who can be in the waiting room at any given time.

At Westmed Medical Group, a multi-specialty medical practice based in Westchester County, New York, patients are asked to wait in their cars before appointments. They then receive a text message when the doctor is ready to see them, said Anthony Viceroy, Westmed’s CEO.

“If there were no viruses, I can’t say we would have thought of doing this,” he said. “It is something that we will continue to use to minimize any risk to our patients or staff, even once this decreases.”

Once called for their appointment, patients are screened in the lobby for coronavirus symptoms and given a mask if they do not have one. Westmed plans to see patients who tested positive for coronavirus, but only towards the end of the day to “eliminate cross-contamination between non-coronavirus patients,” Viceroy said, and to ensure enough time to thoroughly clean the facility.

At One Medical, a membership-based primary care practice with 85 offices in 11 US cities. In the USA, waiting rooms cannot be replaced with waiting in cars, because many patients travel in massive transits to One Medical locations.

The company is asking patients not to show up early for appointments to avoid overcrowding the waiting room. They are also encouraging patients to make some appointments over the phone using various telehealth tools.

At the same time, One Medical does not want to discourage patients from getting vaccinated, having their blood pressure measured and other necessary routine care, said Andrew Diamond, medical director of One Medical.

“Each patient has a different internal barometer in terms of risks that they are willing to take.”

– Andrew Diamond, Medical Director of One Medical

“Each patient has a different internal barometer in terms of risks that they are willing to take,” he said. “Some patients say, ‘I really want to go in, there is value in that.’ Other patients say, ‘I understand that you have taken action, but I don’t want to go in.’

To ensure social distancing is practiced in waiting rooms, many offices have specific markers that tell patients which chairs to sit in and which ones are disinfected regularly during the day, Diamond said. If too many patients enter the waiting room, Diamond added, they will be asked to wait outside.

Like Westmed, One Medical requires that all patients wear a mask and will provide one if the patient does not have one. One Medical is currently not recommending that patients change their clothes after a visit. “They will sit on a surface that has just been cleaned, so the probability of [having the virus surface on their clothes] it’s significantly shorter than what you did to get to the office, “said Diamond, who has a Ph.D. in immunology

If you need to buy, buy with a purpose

As states ease requests to stay home, retailers announced plans to reopen in certain areas and outlined steps they will take to keep buyers safe.

+ 4.26%
CEO Jeff Gennette, for example, said 68 stores in states that relax COVID-19 restrictions would reopen Monday with reduced hours, and the 775 locations would reopen in six weeks. The new department store chain public health precautions will include plexiglass at cash registers, social signage six feet away, reduced capacity testers that will be disinfected frequently, employees in masks who have completed a “checklist of well-being “before work, and a 24-hour delay in putting the tested clothes back on where they belong, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Best Buy
+ 1.69%
, which had previously gone on to offer a sidewalk pickup, announced this week that it would reopen 200 US stores. USA for inquiries in the store by appointment. New electronic chain measures include providing mandatory masks and gloves for employees, enforcing guidelines for social distancing between customers and employees, disinfecting surfaces and areas of stores between service appointments, and having workers perform check-ins. self-assessment before your shifts using a new app.

Meanwhile, the real estate investment mall trusts Simon Property Group
+ 5.52%
He said he would reopen several of his American shopping malls in the first half of May. Employees, vendors, and contractors should self-test for symptoms before coming to work; workers will wear face masks; and shopping malls will encourage and enforce social distancing through occupancy limits, traffic flow signage, furniture reconfiguration, closing of play areas and any other sealed toilets and urinals in bathrooms, the company said.

Stores may be reopening, but is it a good idea to buy?

“It’s probably safe for people to go to the store when they need to go to the store, as long as they wear a mask and stay away from other people,” said epidemiologist Emily Landon, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University. from Chicago Medicine, told MarketWatch.

But “the most important thing is that we should take turns,” Landon said. “If we all do it at the same time, and we all do it for fun, then it won’t work, it will be a little dangerous.”

That means a visit to the mall right now is not an opportunity to hang out with friends, he said, and a trip to the store is not retail therapy. Instead, consider buying an opportunity to buy things you need in addition to food and medicine – perhaps your growing child needs new clothes, for example, or needs a home repair tool.

“Openness doesn’t mean social activities,” said Landon. “It means trade.”

Shop at stores that have instituted protective measures for their workers, Landon said, after all, those measures will also help protect him. “I would always choose to sponsor a place where I saw there were not too many workers, where they had enough space, and where they were given face masks and had occupancy limits on the door,” he said. “If they are not going to take care of their workers, they will definitely not take care of you.”

In its guidelines for shopping for groceries and other essential household items, the CDC recommends staying six feet away from others while lining up and shopping; wearing a cloth that covers the face; off-peak shopping; disinfect surfaces such as shopping carts; and use hand sanitizer after paying. When possible, the agency says, order online or opt for sidewalk pickup. People at increased risk for serious COVID-19 infections should see if they can shop during special store hours.

Landon called curb pickup “a brilliant idea” that balances reopening businesses with protecting workers. If you need to enter a store, try to complete the navigation part of your online shopping, suggested; Many large retailers allow you to see what’s in stock at a particular store. Call ahead to ask if a particular item is available. Before you get to the store, know what pair of shoes you want to try and what size.

Shop with purpose and minimize your time in the store, Landon said, “Get in, get it, get out.”

Smart travel starts at home now

When traveling through an airport, your main prerogative to protect yourself from catching germs is to avoid interactions with other people as much as possible.

Download your airline’s mobile app and upload your ticket to your phone.

The first step toward that goal is done at home: download your airline’s mobile app and upload your ticket to your phone. That is in accordance with new recommendations from Tampa International Airport in Florida.

In this way, you can avoid self-service kiosk displays that have been touched by countless people. If you only carry hand luggage, you can also avoid the check-in counter.

While going through airport security, choose the shortest lines possible to avoid being around other people. If you have Precheck TSA, Clear, Global Entry or a similar authorization that allows you to cut the main line, please do so. If an employee of the Transportation Security Administration is to touch your personal items for inspection, you can ask them to change gloves.

And remember, many people touched the containers that go through security scanners before you, so sanitize anything that touches the container and your hands. If possible, put items in your carry-on bag to avoid using containers. A 2018 study by researchers in Finland and the UK found that 50% of luggage trays in airport containers were contaminated with a respiratory virus.

(It’s worth noting that the TSA has now said that travelers can carry a 12-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer through security due to the coronavirus.)

Once in the airport terminal, keep in mind what you touch. Wash your hands before eating or drinking, as you would in a restaurant. And follow the social distancing – don’t crowd the gate before boarding, and if the airport has placed markers to indicate six feet of distance on the lines, then keep that in mind.

When you board the plane, clean your seat, backrest and table entertainment system with a disinfecting wipe. You can also cover your seat with a blanket or special cover. While airlines are driving cleanup procedures in the wake of COVID-19, taking those steps can provide additional protection.

More airlines, including American
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and Delta
+ 5.18%,
they now require passengers to wear masks during flights, so get ready and bring one in your carry-on luggage.

One in four (27%) people do not wash their hands after traveling on public transportation, including planes, according to a 2019 report by Vital Vio, a company that makes antimicrobial lights.

That’s despite the fact that studies have shown that you can find more bacteria on public transport than in your own bathroom. Wash or disinfect your hands frequently once you’re on the plane and afterward, and be sure to disinfect anything you touch during your flight, like your cell phone.

When you get to your hotel room, don’t immediately relax.

Precautions should not stop once you arrive at your hotel. When you get to your room, don’t relax immediately. You will want to disinfect commonly touched surfaces. A 2012 study by researchers at the University of Houston found high levels of bacterial contamination in hotel room TV remote controls and switches on night lamps.

Remove the disinfecting wipes again and disinfect the surfaces you are likely to touch. You may also consider placing the TV remote control in a plastic bag for added protection.

Also, while hotels change sheets between guests, the comforter and pillows are cleaned less frequently. Some hotels have removed them from rooms in the middle of COVID-19, but travelers may want to use their own sheets and pillows as a precaution.

Hotels are likely to reuse single-use toiletries in bathrooms, according to travel website The Points Guy, but you may want to bring yours so that no one else has touched the soap and shampoo you use . The same goes for drinks and snacks in the mini fridge.