UnderTheDoormat’s action on Coronavirus
Naturally the spread of Coronavirus has been in the news recently. We’re keeping a watching brief on developments and we are in contact with other players in the industry, including hotels, on the most appropriate steps.
What does my government say about my holiday destination?
The most important thing to do before travelling is to check the advice given by your government. In the UK, this comes from the Foreign Office, which uses a traffic light system: no-travel zones are designated in red; essential travel only is designated by amber; and safe zones are designated by green. A number of countries have either placed restrictions on movement in their own countries or have restricted flights to/from certain locations.
Advice can change, though, so please do be sure to check the relevant government website for your country before you leave.
What good hygiene habits can I adopt to protect myself?
Interestingly, a study published just before the coronavirus outbreak began indicated that simply by increasing handwashing at the world’s airports, the risk of a bug like the coronavirus spreading could be reduced by almost 70 per cent. It’s no surprise, then, that handwashing habits have recently hit the headlines.
Undoubtedly, spending time with someone who has the coronavirus would be risky – but what about if you’re in a confined space with a number of people, such as during travel? It is possible, though not necessarily probable, to pick up respiratory diseases by touching surfaces such as door handles or even seats. As such, it’s advised that during travel you do not touch your face or bite your nails; and, when you’ve left the plane, train or bus, that you wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser. The NHS recommends that you cover your hands with soap and spend at least twenty seconds washing your hands – the same amount of time, roughly, that it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.
Whilst it’s not always possible, the best way to get around during your holiday is to walk or cycle. Fortunately, this is easy to do in a city like London: there are so many attractions in each area that there’s plenty to do on foot, or you can always hop onto a highly-available Santander bike. It's always a good idea to check what attractions are currently open and their opening times before planning a trip outdoor.
Where should I stay?
In the current climate, when people are – understandably – concerned about the spread of germs, a homestay is a great alternative to a hotel. You can experience all the luxury of a hotel whilst only sharing quarters with people that you know, avoiding an environment which is frequented by travellers arriving from all over the world. You’re also able to prepare your own food (no breakfast buffet!), which could reduce the risk of cross-contamination. In addition, fully-managed services like UnderTheDoormat clean all homes professionally before any guests stay, ensuring a high level of hygiene and cleanliness throughout.
With a homestay, you’re also afforded more choice: you can choose to stay somewhere less densely populated, if you wish (in a house as opposed to an apartment, in a quiet suburb of London), or somewhere that has many attractions nearby within walking distance, allowing you to soak up the city without using public transport. Whilst London’s transport system is perfectly safe – our team continue to use it every day – we also appreciate that for some it’s preferable to walk as much as possible (for exercise reasons, too!), and many of our comfortable homestays are perfectly suited for this.
What if I do catch coronavirus?
One of the biggest worries for travellers is the thought of catching the coronavirus at all – but especially whilst abroad. If you feel unwell whilst you’re in the UK – particularly if you have a cough, fever or shortness of breath – it’s advised that you stay indoors and call the National Health Service’s 111 number. However the chances of catching the coronavirus in the UK is unlikely: as of 6th March 2020, 20,338 people have been tested for the virus in the UK, with just over 160 confirmed cases (0.008%).
Whilst we don’t wish to downplay the outbreak, which has claimed lives and disrupted many more, it is important to note that the fatality rate globally is currently 3.4% - and less than 2% outside of China. Thankfully, around 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild. However, certain factors can make a person more susceptible to the most damaging effects of the virus. At present, it’s thought that the risks associated with the virus rise steeply in persons with certain pre-existing conditions (such as respiratory problems) or those who are over the age of 80. For people between 10 and 40 years old, the global mortality rate is 0.2 per cent.
We are working with government and industry guidance to implement best practice to ensure our homes remain safe. If there’s a case for tightening our procedures even further we’ll do that and let our homeowners and guests know as and when that happens, but right now we’ve got the right balance for the current situation. Our number one priority is the safety of our guests, homeowners, and team members. There is still a lot we don’t know about Coronavirus, but all of our team, our suppliers (including cleaners) and our greeters who welcome guests are following the guidance of the UK Government, Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Medical Officer in our response.
We have briefed all of our guests on good hygiene practices throughout their stay and all of our cleaning teams use antibacterial products in their cleaning to prevent the spread of germs.
This is quite an extraordinary time and our homeowner and guest teams are working very hard to ensure everyone stays safe and can continue to stay in homes.
We are advising owners to keep availability open as we are still taking some bookings for now as people’s plans change and for the future as soon as things improve, we want to be in the best position to take bookings.
You can find the latest updates on the UK government website.
A final thought
The coronavirus outbreak has meant an unsettling start to 2020 for many people, and our thoughts are with everyone that has been affected.
However - provided that you take a few simple precautions, and check the latest advice before travelling - there’s no reason to put off a much-longed-for holiday to a safe destination. Be careful where necessary, but do also be sure to enjoy yourself! And if you have any queries, please get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to put your mind at rest and ensure that you have a fantastic vacation.