Travel and the coronavirus. What should I do?
"Stay at home": the government’s order could not be clearer, and is also the wisest action we can take during this public health emergency. But some of us have to travel, and not just from the kitchen to the living room. So, what is the best way of getting from A to B and what precautions should you take?
Walking, cycling or e-bike
These days most people prefer to walk or cycle (standard or power-assisted bike). Fortunately, spring has arrived and the weather is getting warmer. However, if your bike is gathering dust in the cellar because you did not get around to having it serviced or fixed, don’t despair. Although bike shops have had to close because they are considered a non-essential service, their repair shops can stay open. Many have information on how to contact their mechanics either on their website or simply on their door.
If you do not have your own bike, you could maybe ask your neighbour if you can borrow theirs. Please remember the social distancing rules. So, during the bike handover, it is important that you and your neighbour keep a safe distance of two metres from one another, and that you thoroughly disinfect the handlebars and saddle before and after use.
But what if it is pelting down, or you can’t take your bike for some reason, or it is too far to cycle? Of course, public transport services are still running, albeit with a restricted timetable. Many transport companies, including our partner the Zugerland Verkehrsbetriebe, have posted special information for passengers on their websites. You will find details about the latest protective measures they have introduced like automatic door opening, as well as regular disinfection and deep cleaning of their vehicles.
If you are travelling by train, bus or tram, there are a few important points to remember:
- Always keep your distance from other people when waiting, getting on and off, and when choosing a seat.
- Touch as few fixtures (e.g. buttons, grips, straps) as possible, and always disinfect your hands afterwards.
- Avoid travelling during rush hour.
- Plan your journey well in advance and check the timetable, as services are currently limited.
These are the recommendations issued by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Full details can be found here. It goes without saying that this advice applies to everything you do outside your home. The FAIRTIQ app, for example, makes life a little simpler and a little less stressful. You don’t have to worry about using the touchscreen ticket machines because the FAIRTIQ app automatically makes sure you have the right ticket, at the right price. Once you have downloaded the app, all you have to do is check in before you board the train or bus, then check out when you reach your destination by swiping the ‘STOP’ button from right to left. You can find step-by-step instructions here.
Various car sharing platforms allow you to rent a car for a certain period of time. The large car sharing providers like Mobility have a huge network of sites across Switzerland. Although they regularly clean and disinfect their fleet, you should wear disposable gloves when driving and disinfect the steering wheel, gear stick and all other components that you need to touch when you pick up the car.
Another, but more expensive, option is taking a taxi. A number of taxi companies have introduced a series of safety measures. We recommend that you contact your taxi service beforehand and ask about the precautions they have in place.
Go digital or take a rain check
If you feel uncomfortable taking any kind of transport at the moment, you might want to think about organising a digital meeting instead. Of course, this is not always appropriate. But, as we all know, necessity is the mother of invention! That’s why there are now a host of handy services and platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook's Messenger, Jitsi, Google Duo, Houseparty and Zoom that let you make video calls. If you have difficulty setting up or using one of these services on your own device, programmes like Teamviewer provide remote support and help.
And if this doesn’t work, it might be better to postpone your meeting, at least for a few weeks. Don’t feel too embarrassed about rearranging your plans, you’re not the only one and everyone understands that these are extraordinary times.
By bike, car or train...
…whatever means of transport you choose, always follow these two golden rules:
- Plan your journey well in advance (check the timetable; if you’ve borrowed a bike, disinfect it before you use it; call your taxi company to ask about their safety measures).
- As soon as you arrive at your destination and when you return home, wash your hands carefully and thoroughly.
These recommendations are designed to minimise the risk of infection. But the best way to protect yourself is, of course, to stay at home.