With borders recently re-opening between New South Wales and South Australia, and confidence in domestic business travel slowly returning, leading travel risk experts at World Travel Protection (WTP) have provided a series of safe travel tips.
The safest way to travel by air
When it comes to flying, Dr Stephen Rashford, Chief Medical Officer for World Travel Protection, says travellers should assess the entire trip, from departing their house or office to arrival at their destination.
This could include using a Maxi Cab to put extra space between you and the driver, avoiding public transport or ride-sharing taxis, and monitoring movement through the airport in crowded spaces like security screening. Check in online, avoid touching surfaces in lounges or on the aeroplane itself, and use hand sanitising stations throughout the airport (or carry your own pocket bottle of sanitiser). Other simple strategies like wearing a mask and avoiding touching your face are also recommended.
“At this stage we’re not aware of any evidence that suggests business class or first class is safer than economy,” says Dr Rashford in regards to where to sit on the plane itself.
When it comes to meeting time
Check whether your meeting place or conference venue has a COVID-Safe plan. Most rooms will have designated maximum numbers with allocated seating spots. You can also mitigate the risks by practicing good hand hygiene, using alcohol sanitiser or regular hand washing. It’s also advisable to maintain social distancing of at least 1.5 metres and wear a mask where mandated or where social distancing isn’t possible. While it may feel awkward or unusual, try to resist shaking hands with your business partners and colleagues.
While the risk of COVID-19 transmission is thought to be lower in outdoor areas, travellers still need to maintain all the basics outlined above to mitigate the risk of COVID transmission for ‘al fresco’ meetings.
What happens if a traveller tests positive to COVID-19 while interstate?
“The COVID response is led by each state health department in Australia, and they are doing a tremendous job,” says Dr Rashford.
“Should a World Travel Protection client test positive to COVID-19 while interstate, we would coordinate the support the traveller and their family members might require, including the cost of self-isolating if unwell or awaiting a test result, and the process of continuing to travel or returning home.”
Other steps a traveller can take to lower their risk of contracting COVID-19
Business travellers should do their research and due diligence before travelling if they don’t have the support of an organisation such as World Travel Protection.
WTP offers a Travel Assist Portal for clients that supports Travel Risk Managers within an organisation to locate and share important alerts with their employees using the Travel Assist app.
While designed for global travel, WTP works with organisations that use the technology to help manage their employees’ business travel. Through the portal and app, both the traveller and Risk Manager receive the latest factual intelligence on what is changing by state, any specific COVID-19 ‘hot spots’ and the actual location of the change. The Travel Assist App is geo-linked and will notify the traveller when they are in an affected area.
Additional tips for organisations
Adrian Leach, World Travel Protection’s CEO, strongly encourages organisations to develop and implement an internal education campaign to educate employees.
“Your personnel should know how to mitigate COVID-19 risks with simple measures such as carrying alcohol sanitiser, avoiding face touching or shaking hands, making contactless payments, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask in heavily populated areas,” Mr Leach says.
“Vaccines are still undergoing clinical trials and are months away from being able to be used in the general population. It is highly unlikely they will be 100% efficacious, so COVID risk mitigation will still need to be undertaken. If we are to be successful in returning to travel, it’s important that everyone embraces COVID precautions and takes them seriously.”