It’s Father’s Day weekend and your dad lives alone in another state. Now that many quarantine restrictions have been lifted, does that mean it’s safe to visit?
Stay Home if You Can
Although Virginia is in “phase two” of lowering restrictions on businesses, the prevention guidelines for individuals and families remain the same:
- Stay home as much as possible
- Practice social distancing by staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds and mass gatherings and limiting close contact with anyone not in your household
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and with alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
- Wear a mask whenever you are in public places, such as a grocery store or gas station
The more we travel, the more we increase the chance of both getting infected with COVID-19 somewhere along the way, and spreading COVID-19 to others we encounter on our trip.
In spite of policy changes, it is important to understand that nothing about the virus has changed in recent weeks:
- It still has a long incubation period during which people often show no symptoms
- It still spreads most easily through droplets as well as via contaminated surfaces
- And it still can have devastating health impacts for older seniors and people with chronic health conditions
This means that even if you were to safely travel to visit faraway loved ones, you can still bring the virus there with you—or bring it back home with you.
The bottom line is that staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick.
If You Must Travel
Do not travel if you or anyone else in your household is sick, or if you have family members who cannot wear a mask for any reason.
If you must travel, VDH advises taking the following precautions at a minimum.
Before leaving home:
- Check with the state and local health departments along your route for travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders or even state border closures
- Contact your family’s primary care physician and pediatrician to inform them and seek additional guidance; schedule appointments for video visits or communications through MyChart after you return
- Have your elderly loved one check in with their provider as well, to be sure it’s safe for them to have visitors
- Pack more than you need of any regular medications your family members take
- Monitor yourself and your family for symptoms, including taking your temperature each morning and night to check for fever; use VDH’s Daily Symptom Monitoring Log to keep track
- Minimize stops along the way by filling the gas tank, using the restroom and packing food and drinks before you leave—including non-perishable foods in case restaurants and stores are closed
On the road:
- Avoid exposure to strangers as much as possible at rest stops and gas stations
- Wear a mask when you must be in public places; bring extras and disposable masks
- Be diligent about wiping down high-touch surfaces such as gas pumps and restroom doors
- Wipe down your keys, door handles, steering wheel and gear shift before starting your vehicle
- Never leave a child or pet unattended in your vehicle
At your destination:
- Stay in separate lodgings from your loved one
- Remain at least six feet apart at all times
- Visit together outdoors; the risk of transmission is much higher inside than outside
- Wear a mask when you are together, except when eating or drinking
- Refrain from sharing food or drinks
- Use hand sanitizer often
- Avoid touching your face
When you return home:
- Check again with state and local health departments along your route for updates to regulations or guidance
- Contact your family’s primary care physician and pediatrician to seek additional guidance
- Self-quarantine for 14 days following international or air travel
- Be sure your elderly loved one follows up with their primary care provider as well
Anyone in your family who needs medical care following your visit can expect to be asked a series of questions when they make an appointment, and again when they arrive at the hospital or clinic. These screening questions are designed to best protect you, other patients and your care team from COVID-19 exposure.
Many employers will conduct similar screening after employees travel, and require self-quarantine for a time before allowing traveling employees to return to work.
Bookmark these pages for current information and guidance on travel:
Virginia Department of Health Travel FAQs
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Domestic Travel