Travel Brno: How Coronavirus Affects Vacation Plans
Photo: Tuřany Airport. KK / Brno Daily.
This installment of the monthly Travel Brno series was supposed to be a gentle nudge to remind you that now is a good time to find deals and prime locations for your summer vacation.
Not any more.
Coronavirus, a highly communicative virus that causes a range of respiratory illnesses, started in China late last year as a faraway story. A city the size of Chicago was put under quarantine. It didn’t contain the virus.
Now, it has an official name — severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease associated with it is COVID-19. Through the end of February, it has infected more than 84,000 people in 56 countries and claimed more than 2,800 lives.
Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Wash your hands often, cover your mouth when he sneeze and cough, keep a social distance and stay home from work and school when you are ill.
The situation is clearly upsetting people and institutions around the world, including stock markets, movie productions and the travel industry. Last month, the virus reached Italy, where towns have been put under quarantine, the Venice Carnival was prematurely ended and a Europa League football match was played in an empty stadium.
Italy, specifically Caorle and Bibione on the northern coast of the Adriatic Sea, was to be the main topic of this Travel Brno story. Yet, that doesn’t make sense when Brno schools have been forced to deal with students returning from Spring Break trips to Milan and the Italian Alps and many business trips are being cancelled.
This is a developing story that is likely being magnified and exaggerated. Everybody can make up their own mind as to the severity. Purchasing kilograms of canned food and bottled water seems alarmist. Hoarding medical masks is excessive. Cooler heads will eventually prevail. But, the fact of the matter is that it is probably best to be cautious. I have personally cancelled reservations for a weeklong stay in Carole in mid-April. Why risk anything when it comes to the safety of your family?
This year seems like a good one for short-distance travel. Fresh-air destinations without a lot of people, like the Czech mountains and the High Tatras in Slovakia, are sounding pretty good to me.
In any case, here are some tips so that you can make informed decisions about travel this year:
• Do your research.
Read reputable newspapers and news sources. Stay on top of the official information that is provided by the World Health Organization — Click Here.
Before you travel (or purchase tickets and accommodations) consult the official Travel Advisories that are maintained by governments. Here are the pages for the main English-language governments:
– The United States — Click Here.
– Canada — Click Here.
– The United Kingdom — Click Here.
• Find an unaffected location.
The world is a large place. Though this outbreak is nearing the definition of a “pandemic”, the World Health Organization still calls it an “epidemic”. The differences are minor. Semantics aside, there are many places that are unaffected and that may stay safe.
• What is your cohort?
The death toll has overwhelmingly been made up of older Chinese men who smoked heavily and, therefore, had more imperfections in their lungs. Older people, heavy smokers and those with pre-existing medical conditions should take extra precautions. Being young and healthy, however, does not mean you are bulletproof.
• Get travel insurance.
Make sure to have an out in case you have to cancel your reservations. I have often considered travel insurance to be a rip off. Now I appreciate why it exists. As with all insurance, however, make sure read the fine print to make sure that you fully understand the coverage.
• Bring an extra long book.
You know all of those long books that you have always wanted to read? Put them on your e-reader just in case. There have been many stories of travelers who got stuck on a cruise ship or in a hotel because someone was infected by the coronavirus. Be prepared for the possibility of a long quarantine. War and Peace. The Infinite Jest. The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Maybe the Bible (for more than its literary worth).
And, as a final piece of advice, many experts believe that this epidemic will not end any time soon. Vaccines, if one is found, require rounds of testing to verify that they do not exacerbate the situation.
Expect this coronavirus to decrease in intensity as the weather warms for the spring and summer. Then be prepared for increased intensity in the fall.
Disclaimer: Opinions and views expressed in the text above are of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher.