Information You Need: How to visit family safely?

After spending months physical distancing, many of us are eager to visit family and friends. However, it is important to remember that there is no risk-free option to visit family or friends in person. If you do decide to plan a trip, there are certain precautions that you can take to reduce your own, and your loved ones’ risk of COVID-19. The steps below may help you decide if travelling is a good idea, and if so, how to do so more safely. 

  1. Consider the risk level
  • It is first important to decide whether or not your travel is essential. 
  • If you intend on visiting a friend or family member that is over the age of 65, has underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, is immunocompromised, or has a chronic lung condition (e.g., asthma or COPD), it may be important to avoid a visit, or you may need to take additional precautions (e.g., quarantining for 14 days before visiting in person).
  • It should be noted that how you quarantine is critical to the level of risk that you may be introducing to additional family members. If you carry out essential activities such as food shopping in person, while the individuals you are visiting do not go anywhere in person, you will still be elevating their level of risk. 
  • Many states have travel restrictions in place and may require you to quarantine upon arrival. It is important to be prepared for what these restrictions may be for your destination. They may also vary by where you are traveling from. 
  1. Have conversations with your family members or friends to know everyone’s comfort levels.
  • It is okay to say no to visiting family or friends. At the end of the day everyone’s safety and health is most important. 
  • Having conversations about boundaries and precautions (e.g., only visiting outdoors, wearing cloth face coverings, physical distancing) can help everyone understand what others are comfortable with and can avoid stressful situations later.
  • You should let the person who is the most conservative with their choices be the level that you adhere to. For example, if you visit someone who doesn’t ever go out shopping in person, etc. you should also not go shopping in person while you stay with them. Your exposure and risk behavior influences their risk as long as you are together. 
  1.  Think about how you will travel to your destination
  • Use the flowchart we provided in our previous update “Is it safe to fly” to see if you should travel and how you will get there. 
  • Driving is a safer alternative to flying because you may reduce your contacts by avoiding airports and airplanes.
  • If you do intend to drive there are some things you can do to reduce your chances of exposure while on your road trip. 
    • At the hotel: Choose hotels that have exterior doors and individual unit AC. Open the doors, wipe down surfaces and turn on the fan to air out the hotel and sanitize prior to bringing your things into the room. You should also bring your own pillows. Wipe down high touch surfaces like door handles etc. 
    • Pack your own food or go only through drive throughs that you know have good protocols for hygiene. 
    • Pay at the pump for fuel. 
    • Minimize any time spent in high traffic restrooms such as truck stops. 
    • If it is a long road trip, make sure you have multiple cloth face coverings. Put the one you aren’t wearing in the sun. Or carry some disposable coverings with you. 
  1. If possible, find a way to quarantine yourself for 14 days before and after your arrival.
  • This is not always possible, but it is a great idea.
  • You could rent a home for two weeks and once the two weeks is over you could visit your family and friends safely. If you cannot afford to be in a separate place, see if there is an area in the home where you can minimize your interactions. 
    • A basement
    • A room with a seperate entrance or bathroom. 
    • If you are traveling somewhere warm, you could even use a tent outside in the yard (one of our AZCOVIDTXT team’s family members did this and they only went into the house masked to use the restrooms, etc.)
    • Wear cloth face coverings if you are entering a home and you haven’t quarantined. 
  • It is also a very good idea for those you are visiting to also quarantine for 14 days prior to the visit.
  • While you cannot test out of quarantine if you have had a definite exposure to SARS-CoV-2, what is being described here is an assumption of exposure during travel. One way to further reduce potential risk is to take a COVID test approximately 5-8 days upon arrival. PCR is more sensitive.  If you have had a known exposure you should not travel or visit others.  
  1. Reduce contacts other than those you are visiting with.
  • If you decide to visit your family or friends in person, you should avoid close contact with anyone else outside those you are visiting. This does not mean that you cannot go to the grocery store, it just means that you should avoid any unnecessary outings and close contact with people other than those you are visiting. Always adhere to the practices of the most conservative in your group. If there are people who take greater risks, this will increase your risk as well. 
  1. Follow COVID-19 safety precautions
  • Whenever possible, be sure you and everyone travelling with you wears a cloth face covering and maintains physical distancing. 
  • Be outdoors as much as possible or open windows to improve ventilation. 
  • Bring 70% alcohol based hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with you

For more information, visit this link.

Comments are closed.