For many local families, an important summer vacation tradition is the vacation. But the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in the plans for some, with cruises avoiding U.S. shores and air travel more limited than usual, destinations closed for business and festivals and other events canceled.
Enter the road trip. As long as you have a car, a license and gas money, you can get away — but figuring out a destination can be tricky.
Do you know which California State Parks are open? Which counties have plenty to do and which are mostly closed? What hotels are doing to protect guests from COVID-19? What you should be doing while traveling to minimize the risk?
Now, Visit California has created a Responsible Travel Hub to answer those questions and more as Californians get on the road again.
“The tenets of our Responsible Travel Code speak to both preserving California and to the safety of our communities and visitors as the state begins to reopen for leisure travel,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “We hope this code can serve as a quick resource for travelers on how to stay safe and be respectful of others and of the environment when visiting the state.”
Visit California has launched the travel hub — along with a Responsible Travel Code — as the state begins to reopen to leisure travel. Beginning June 12, counties were allowed to reopen to tourists as long as they meet a collection of benchmarks and encourage social distancing and sanitizing practices.
The hub, which can be accessed at www.tinyurl. com/caltravel, includes links to California State Parks and the National Park Service, resources and guidelines from industry groups such as the California Hotel & Lodging Association and California Wine Institute, and local and regional visitors bureaus and marketing coalitions such as Visit Lodi and Lodi Wine.
The goal of the site is to give travelers one place to find all of the information they need to plan a safe trip.
“Visitors should plan ahead by checking with the destinations they intend to visit to learn what activities are allowed, prohibited or limited, and prepare accordingly,” Beteta said.
Travelers do need to weigh the risks of travel. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that people visiting areas where COVID-19 is actively spreading do have the risk of catching the deadly virus, and anyone who travels while ill could potentially infect others.
Older residents, those with chronic conditions and those who live with someone who is at-risk should seriously study the risks and consider putting off travel, the CDC recommends. Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should not travel, and anyone who has been in contact with someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should self-isolate for 14 days before traveling.
“Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19,” the CDC says. “We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.”
Wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently, and remember that in California masks are required in public places. For additional safety and health information and recommendations, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus, the scroll down to “More Info” and click on “Travel.”
“(Travelers) should plan to take several new precautions, but they should also be excited to experience travel again — spending time with loved ones, creating new memories and enjoying the communities and great experiences that California has to offer,” Beteta said.