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 as a travel company, we need to also move with the times and embrace 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. Having staff based in the areas in which we travel and being based in Europe is extremely important to our guests as we also have a good feel for how these rules translate into everyday life and travel in-country. We have consulted both the in-country tourism regulations for the regions we travel to and also the broader EU recommendations. Please see the bibliography at the bottom of the page for full details of country-specific regulations including WHO and CDC recommendations.
In consultation with our medical liaison officer and governing body regulations, we now have a framework for how we will operate on tour for 2020 tours and beyond. Our May 2020 guest survey also highlighted some key areas of concern, which we have addressed in our new guidelines. 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 as best as possible you maintain social distancing in the 14 days prior to your tour. This is to help prevent exposure in your home country and reduce the likelihood of arriving on tour unwell.
> Ideally, we ask that you either obtain a PCR COVID-19 test where possible 4 days prior to departure from home OR you visit your normal physician to obtain a certificate stating you are not presenting with any COVID-19 symptoms. A positive antibody test is also an acceptable option if this is available to you. We ask that these be sent through prior to tour departure and we will seek your consent at this time to share the information with relevant team members. This will help to give you and your fellow guests some peace of mind.
> 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 now in Europe, wearing a mask is mandatory on public transport and in closed spaces.
On Tour- General
> We are reducing group numbers on all tours for the foreseeable future to enable adherence to new protocols.
> We will provide you with Ride & Seek washable masks, which you may like to use on the bike. These will also come in handy during the day on tour if you drop into a bar for coffee or any shops, particularly if social distancing is difficult in the space. An evening wash with hot soapy water is recommended so it is ready for use the following day.
> On the bike, we recommend that you maintain social distancing measures with your fellow riders.
> Our team will take responsibility for tyre inflation to prevent cross-contamination of pumps. Antibacterial wipes will continue to be available to wipe down any bike tools between each use.
> 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 and 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. This will be dependant on the groups’ location as per local protocols.
> We ask all guests to check their travel insurance policies for coverage of COVID-19 related illness during travel to ensure adequate coverage in the event that you become unwell.
> If a suspected COVID-19 related illness appears on tour, we have investigated the options for testing in-country. This has included both liaising with in-country team members, medical professionals and government health websites. In the EU for example, testing availability for foreigners is a condition of being able to open borders to tourists (further information can be found in the links in the bibliography).
> If a case of COVID-19 is detected on tour, Ride & Seek will follow EU recommendations including isolation, seeking medical advice, relocation to a medical facility if required and facilitate contact tracing with the local authorities.
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 including door handles, dash, seats and handles.
> Masks are recommended whilst travelling in the van and ventilation will be provided where possible.
> As requested by some respondents to our survey, we will have a thermometer available at roll-out daily for guests to check their temperature.
> We are liaising with all tour hotels to ensure thorough cleaning protocols are in place and changing hotels as required. Key areas for our hotels are ensuring enhanced cleaning protocols for rooms, bathrooms, dining facilities and common area spaces. Some countries also require limits on common spaces and time slots for breakfast.
> 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
> Picnic lunches will now be individually prepared and packed in recyclable lunch boxes by a team member using full food hygiene measures. Dietary requirements will continue to be met and any special requests will continue to be accommodated. We will also continue to deliver on our ethos of eating lovely local delicacies and cheeses, seasonal fruit and vegetables all within your own personally packed lunch.
> We will supply snacks in recyclable paper bags of Meg’s fruit and nut “rocket fuel”, which will avoid the use f communal self-service containers.
> We will continue to supply our ever-popular premium Veloforte bars which are individually wrapped. This year we will also add the Veloforte gels. We have been busy testing these with the team and guests who have reported that they are excellent. These will provide a welcome boost for you when heading into a big climb or a long day in the saddle.
> Fresh fruit will also continue to be available and as usual, we will try to supply special snack requests. Snacks will no longer be self-service from containers to avoid contamination.
> Depending on tours and restaurant availability, we will enable some more dinner-on-your-own options. This was an option put forward by respondents to our survey to reduce the group size at mealtimes. Alternatively, smaller tables can be requested for dinner whereby groups can be reduced in size at mealtimes.
> We recognise that breakfast buffets are a potential issue and we have liaised with hotels to ensure measures are put in place to reduce groups sizes or find alternative breakfast options for guests.
Please note that we will aim to update our protocol as and when local guidelines change (guidelines correct as of June 10, 2020). 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 dependant 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
Ministry of industry, trade and tourism, Spain: https://www.mincotur.gob.es/en-us/covid-19/GuidelinesRecommendations/Active_Tourism_and_Ecotourism.pdf, https://www.mincotur.gob.es/en-us/covid-19/GuidelinesRecommendations/Hotels.pdf, https://www.mincotur.gob.es/en-us/covid-19/GuidelinesRecommendations/Restaurants.pdf
Testing facilities France: https://sante.fr/recherche/trouver/DepistageCovid
France health Coronavirus information: https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus
Italy restaurant standards: http://www.italia.it/en/useful-info/guidance-standards-for-hospitality-reopening/restaurants.html
Croatia tourism Q&A Coronavirus: https://croatia.hr/en-GB/coronavirus-2019-ncov-q-and-a
Albania Ministry of Health and Social Protection: https://new.shendetesia.gov.al/?s=COVID-19
Greece tourism ministry COVID-19 Protocols: http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/home/health_protocols_
Australian travel Advice: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/COVID-19-australian-travellers