In these unprecedented times, keeping our guests safe and minimising the risk of illness on-tour has become even more important. Travel as we know it has changed and in turn, we have embraced new ways of working. Rules for social distancing differ by country and knowledge of local rules is imperative to ensure we abide by these in each country we travel. We have consulted both the in-country tourism regulations for the regions we travel to in conjunction with WHO and CDC recommendations in establishing our protocols.
Many of these protocols were trialed and honed when we ran tours in September 2020 and we feel have set us in good stead for the upcoming tour program. The core focus was on establishing a ‘bubble’ around the tour group and adhering to a series of rules in order to mitigate risk.
Through our previous experience, consultation with our medical liaison officer, and governing body regulations, we have a framework for how we will operate on tour for our 2021 tours and beyond. We don’t want to take out the fun from being on tour, so we are aiming to set some basic expectations so we can get on with riding our bikes in beautiful places.
> We ask that you arrive on tour in good health.
> We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated prior to travel. If that is not possible, we ask that you obtain a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of your departure. This will help to give you and your fellow guests some peace of mind. These measures also apply to our trip specialists and guides.
> During travel to the start point of the tour, we ask that you wear a mask, wash your hands regularly and follow the International Air Transport Association recommendations for travellers. In many countries, wearing a mask is mandatory on public transport and in closed spaces.
On Tour- General
> The combination of smaller group size and so much of our day spent outside lend our tours to travel in the current climate. In response to the present situation, we have reduced our maximum group size to 24 on our epic cycling tours and 14 for local tours.
> We ask that you arrive on tour with face masks to wear when social distancing is not possible and in enclosed spaces. The use of face masks will be determined based on local rules and regulations.
> Our team will take responsibility for sanitising equipment used by the group including bike pumps and bike tools.
> We ask that any COVID-19 symptoms be reported immediately to a member of our team. Symptoms including shortness of breath and/or cough, and/or a sore throat, and/or fever, and/or runny nose/sneezing and/or an abrupt loss of taste and smell. A medical opinion and if necessary a test will be sought for any guest displaying symptoms to ensure they and the group remain safe.
On Tour- Travel
> Enhanced vehicle cleaning will be conducted each day by the team to ensure a high level of cleanliness on commonly touched surfaces.
> Masks are recommended whilst travelling in the van and ventilation will be used where possible.
> We are liaising with all tour hotels to ensure thorough cleaning protocols are in place. Our hotels are hand-picked and our strong relationships enable us to communicate our expectations.
> Hand sanitiser will continue to be available as per our previous guidelines and we encourage regular handwashing where possible during your day on the bike.
On Tour- Food and Picnics
> For group dinner, we are looking to reduce group size by arranging smaller group tables. Where possible we will also arrange to dine outdoors.
> Many hotels are no longer providing breakfast buffets. As such we have liaised with hotels to ensure measures are put in place to reduce groups sizes or find alternative breakfast options for guests.
> Picnic lunches will be prepared by a staff member observing our enhanced food safety protocols.
Please note that we will aim to update our protocol as and when local guidelines change (guidelines correct as of April 26th, 2021). Whilst we are providing a framework to reduce risk during travel, it does not replace personal responsibility for adherence to WHO recommendations including regular hand washing and maintaining social distancing. This protocol is meant to complement the in-country rules and regulations on tourism and as such additional measures may be adapted depending on the region we are travelling in.
“EU Guidance for the progressive resumption of tourism services and for health protocols in hospitality establishments – COVID-19” Official Journal of the European Union: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52020XC0515(03)
“Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis” Chu, D et al, The Lancet, June 2020, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31142-9
Australian travel Advice: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/COVID-19-australian-travellers