Tour Protocols 2022
COVID PROTOCOLS WE WILL FOLLOW DURING YOUR TOUR
Last updated 11 January 2022
The protocols outlined below are based on information available to us as of the date of this writing, listed above. Official health and travel guidelines are bound to change in the coming weeks and months. We will adapt our expected protocols as appropriate as such new information becomes available. We want you to have the safest and most fun tour experience possible. We ask for your patience as we assess and adapt to the issuance of new guidelines. We will of course try to minimize the potential for COVID-related disruption to your tour, but we cannot control all circumstances.
All participants will be required to confirm they will have completed a full COVID vaccination course at least two weeks prior to the tour (if you are getting a two-dose vaccine, this means you must receive your second dose two weeks prior to departure). Having a vaccinated group will greatly diminish but not eliminate the possibility of the group and individual participants being adversely affected by COVID-19. We are requiring all of our staff guides to be vaccinated. Note too that many travel destinations are or soon will be requiring proof of vaccination for entry to bypass testing delays or quarantine, and that entry requirements for a destination can change at any time. You should also have your booster. We strongly encourage you to get your booster if you are eligible. Proof of a booster shot, too, may become a requirement for some travel destinations if they choose to declare that vaccinations do not last indefinitely. And having a booster means your risk is lowered and your travel plans are less likely to be disrupted.
Please note that currently for tours outside your home country (your country of domicile), we require that you have a Travel Insurance Policy with medical coverage (up to at least $50,000, and that does not exclude COVID-19) as well as emergency medical evacuation (minimum $50,000). (Most personal policies as well as government coverage such as Medicare do not provide coverage outside of your country of domicile. A Travel Insurance Policy lets us know that related expenses will be covered should you face a medical emergency while on tour.) Field Guides will request confirmation of your policy prior to departure. Please note that you can purchase your travel insurance policy before you book your flights, as you will be able to add the price of your airfare at a later date and pay any supplemental premium at that time. However, we ask that you wait to book flights until we notify you that the tour is operational.
As of this writing we recommend the following Pre-Tour Protocols for all participants to minimize risk to you and the group at the beginning of the tour. And we expect to enforce at least the following On-Tour Protocols for all participants during the tour, adjusting these as necessary depending on the situation at the time of the tour’s operation.
We strongly recommend that each participant have received a current-season flu shot at least two weeks or more prior to tour departure. This will help reduce the possibility of exhibiting COVID-like symptoms due to flu during the tour.
We strongly suggest the following behavior during the 14 days before the start of your tour:
- Please practice social distancing and mask wearing outside of your household.
- Please avoid unnecessary gatherings outside of your household; also avoid indoor restaurant dining and extended periods in indoor public spaces.
- Although guides will carefully screen for obvious COVID-19 symptoms, it is your responsibility to advise the guide if you are experiencing any symptoms. Typical COVID-19 symptoms include, but are not limited to, trouble breathing, high fever, loss of smell or sense of taste, and a dry cough. If you exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, your guide will ask you to follow a protocol of testing and isolation following current CDC guidelines. Should you test negative immediately, you will be allowed to rejoin the group’s activities. Should you test positive, in most cases, due to the realities of required isolation periods and the length of most of our tours, it is likely that your further participation in the group’s activities will not be possible. (You may also be required to follow any local regulations in place at the time of the tour.)
- Mask-wearing will be required at times on this tour. At the time of this writing (early January, 2022), we expect to have participants and guide wearing well-fitting masks while traveling in vehicles or otherwise in close proximity indoors. The current exception would be mealtimes. Masks will likely be required indoors in public spaces at hotels, bathroom stops, and when entering restaurants. You should bring a personal supply of well-fitting and effective masks on the tour. Some outdoor situations may allow us to pursue our activities without masking. You must follow the guide’s directives.
- When a mask is required, we ask that participants wear a FDA- and/or NIOSH-approved N95 or KN95 mask (easily found online—see below**). Other types of masks will be allowed if they follow CDC guidelines, but masks with vents, buffs, bandanas, scarves, or other types of less protective face wear are not acceptable as their effectiveness is not reliable. If using a disposable mask type, then participants should bring at least one mask for each day of the tour. In general, face masks and hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol) are required tour gear for all participants. Please be sure to carry a mask with you at all times while with the group.
- We will avoid crowded spaces as much as possible.
- Participants will be reminded to use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces also used by others, or after touching your face.
- Your guide (perhaps requesting your help) will disinfect frequently touched shared surfaces at least daily.
A note about local guides and staff: Travelers with us should be aware that we are not able to guarantee that all local guides, drivers, and staff with which the group may come into close contact will be fully vaccinated against COVID at the time of your tour. We do query our local operators about such status, but due to the current limited availability of vaccines or vaccine distribution in some of the tour locales we visit, the group may encounter and be working with local staff (as well as members of the public) who have not yet been vaccinated. Additionally, please note that we may not be able to answer questions about specific local staff in advance of your tour, and in any case local staff’s vaccination status may subsequently change by the time of the tour.
A note about lodging and transportation: Motels, hotels, and the lodges where we will be staying have their own protocol for cleaning rooms that has been in effect for months. The reality is we cannot guarantee all rooms have been sanitized, beyond normal cleaning, from top to bottom. If it would help you feel more comfortable, we recommend having disinfectant wipes to wipe down bathroom counters, bed stands, and other regularly touched surfaces. For multi-night stays you may request that housekeeping only change towels and empty waste baskets. In cases where we use a local transportation service to provide our vehicle(s), vehicles are cleaned on a regular basis with their own protocols that have also been in place for many months. However, clients may want hand wipes for wiping down surfaces, and frequent hand cleaning is recommended.
You can download a PDF version of this document at this link.
**Note: There are many online sources of FDA and/or NIOSH-approved N95 and KN95 respirators (masks). The cpap1000.com website (associated with 3M) offers a selection of such respirators (currently on this page) and may facilitate your sorting through all of the many mask options available. A NIOSH-approved N95 respirator is also currently available via Amazon at this link. Whenever and wherever your purchase, confirm that your respirator is FDA- or NIOSH-approved, as there are reports of numerous counterfeit and ineffective N95 and KN95 respirators being sold online.