You Should Do This "Only If Necessary" Amid COVID, Experts Warn

As hard as it may be, certain things are still too risky until coronavirus gets under control.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, everything still feels far from normal. But travel is arguably one of the most changed aspects of life. And with surging coronavirus numbers around the country, mandatory quarantines, and even some outright travel bans for certain destinations, the experience is continuing to see drastic shifts. But overall, just how safe is it to pack a bag and fly away for a trip right now, especially with July 4th weekend upon us? Unfortunately for wanderlusts, experts told the Associated Press (AP) that, so long as COVID-19 remains a threat, you should travel by plane "only if necessary."

Even as parts of the country continue to move away from stay-at-home orders, experts say that booking a flight is still a risky move. "We should all be in the mindset of 'only if necessary' and always taking the most precautions we can to protect ourselves and others," Lauren Ancel Meyers, an expert in disease outbreaks at the University of Texas, told the AP.

man wears a medical mask and wipes his hands with disinfectant
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued similar warnings in their guidelines for travelers. "Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces," their site says. "Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within six feet), sometimes for hours. This may increase your risk for exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19."

While most airlines require customers to wear masks, recent developments in the industry may also make the CDC's social distancing advice particularly relevant. Major carriers American Airlines and Spirit Airlines just announced that they would be joining United Airlines in completely selling out flights, eliminating the safe space created by empty middle seats. Ironically, the news comes as coronavirus cases are rising in over half of states across the country.

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Looking to get someplace without boarding a flight? According to Mayo Clinic, a road trip may be your best option. Driving, the medical experts note, "gives you more control over your environment. You'll still need to be smart about any stops you make, but that just takes some planning." And for more on how air travel has changed thanks to the pandemic, check out 13 Things You May Never See on Airplanes Again After Coronavirus.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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