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Traveler alert: coronavirus

The whole world has set off alarms for COVID-19. It is time to be responsible and take precautions: What do I do if I am about to travel? What if I'm in the middle of a trip?

1. If I am about to travel, what do I do?

First of all, if you are a few days away from traveling through Europe, the United States or any of the countries on the infected list, think twice: consider avoiding it or changing the date. Check your airline's rescheduling and cancellation policies. Not only the virus can modify your trip. The safety and health measures taken due to COVID-19 imply the closure of museums, festivals, bars, restaurants and tourist establishments. If you are traveling to a destination that is not listed, check the websites for that country.

2. Can I modify my flight?

Most airlines allow changes, but each takes its own measure. Most are open to modify flights until 5/31, without penalty. In some cases, charges may apply, such as replacing the date by high season (European summer). There are cruises, hotels, lodgings and travel service providers that are tailoring refunds and allowing changes in a special way. Check with your travel agency. Try not to collapse the call center lines (they can't cope!) And do the procedure online.

3. What if I am traveling right now? Avoid places with a lot of crowds, high contact areas (public bathrooms, restaurants, mass supermarkets). If you are traveling through a country at risk of infection, respect the quarantine period dictated by the authorities. Stay in your accommodation and go out only if you need to. In Spain and Italy they set fines if you are away from home without justification. If you are not traveling in a country with risk of infection, still take precautions. If you decide to return to your country, be sure to complete the two weeks at home. The spread of the virus can be reduced by limiting movement. If you can work from home, do it. Don't go into paranoia or fear. There are many people stranded in airports, others with paid flights, accommodations and tours who must cancel them, but the most important thing is to take care of each other. Not to despair! More trips will be back soon.

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