Admit it: you’ve never needed a holiday so badly in your life. But just how much can you relax, knowing that your well-deserved break might expose you to Covid-19? Breathe out. If you do need to travel this festive season, Lisa Witepski has sound advice for staying safe and making happy (healthy) memories.

First things first: where are you going, where are you staying and how will you get there? Amy Knight-Dawson, a member of the PR collective, South Africa is Travel Ready (an initiative to promote safe travel), advises doing a mental walk-through before you embark on your trip. Think about all the touchpoints that concern you, taking into account that you’ll need to eat, drink and use the bathroom at some point in your journey – and you’ll want to do so without feeling anxious about exposure.

Also very important is to make sure that everyone in your party is on board when it comes to complying with Covid-19 protocols. This is especially important if you’re staying with friends and family. Many people think lockdown Level 1 means everything’s back to normal, but it’s not – the virus is still out there and now is not the time for us to let down our guard.

If you’re planning a hotel stay, choose one that has earned the Travel Safe – Eat Safe stamp; an endorsement by the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA) and the Federated Hospitality Association of SA (FEDHASA), indicating that the venue exceeds expectations in terms of protocols.

In a word? Crowds. So, sadly, huge get-togethers where everyone is invited are a definite no-no. But think of it this way – you can prolong and extend your festive celebrations by having a few small, safe gatherings rather than one big one. An added bonus is that you’ll actually get to have one-on-one (at a safe distance, of course) conversations with people you haven’t seen in ages, rather than smiling and waving across a crowded room or smoky braai area.

“… the medical fraternity is bracing for a second wave in February, when we face the consequences of our behaviour in December”

It’s the uppermost thought on the mind of everyone who has been watching infection rates climb since the introduction of Level 1. Will we follow in the footsteps of France, Germany and the UK, all of which reinstated lockdowns? While our pandemic appears to have followed a very different course to that in Europe, a Johannesburg GP comments that the medical fraternity is bracing for a second wave in February, when we face the consequences of our behaviour in December. Unless we’re all diligent about those masks, social distancing and hand washing, that is…


If you’re driving
‘Plot your route and use Google Maps to identify spots where you can stop,’ advises Amy. ‘It might be a good choice to take a break at one of the small towns off the highway that other motorists will overlook, rather than the popular petrol one-stops.’

In a taxi
The basic rules apply. Keep your mask on and the windows open.

In an Uber
Follow the same rules as you would in a taxi, and make sure your driver is wearing a mask. You can cancel the ride if they’re not – but, by the same token, they can refuse to transport you if you’re not wearing yours, says Uber country manager Nduduza Nyanda.

In a restaurant
Choose an outside table, and sanitise thoroughly if you must use the bathroom.

In a B&B, hotel or guest house
Avoid crowded areas. If a number of people are waiting to check in, come back when the lobby is less busy. Sheena O’Brien, health and safety specialist at Sun International, points out that every person who enters your room ups your risk of infection – so if you’re staying at a hotel rather tell the front desk you don’t want your room serviced every day. You can also minimise exposure by ordering room service instead of eating in the dining room.

Sanitiser rules
Take it with you wherever you go, and don’t touch surfaces in public places unless you have to – in which case, sanitise!

TRAVELLING IN THE TIME OF COVID? HERE’S HOW… TRAVELLING IN THE TIME OF COVID? HERE’S HOW… Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on December 07, 2020 Rating: 5
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