It has been full six months now since we are operating tours under the pandemic of COVID-19. The first tour we had after the lockdown in Serbia was on the 6th of June. Serbia officially opened its borders on the 22nd of May without any restrictions, no PCR tests, no quarantine. That fact attracted travelers who didn’t want to be kept imprisoned by the pandemic and still wanted to travel. This was a good news for our suffering business, but it brought many challenges to the table. With that in mind we had to take steps to prevent spread of COVID-19 on tours, both for the sake of travelers and for the safety of #YourSerbiaHost guides and partners.
Who is the right source of information?
Even today, after almost a year since we live in the epidemic, many information about the virus and its spread are confusing and contradictory. Imagine how it was for us in the spring 2020 when we wanted to create a strategy on how to act on tours in order to prevent or just to reduce spread of the virus. We had several official sources to consult, both local and international. On the local level the Institute of Public Health of Serbia. And on international level WHO and CDC, since majority of our travelers come from the western world, especially from the US. Applying advice from all of these sources, combined with common sense we came up with the following steps, described below.
What do we do on tours to prevent spread of COVID-19
First of all we try to act as responsibly as possible in our everyday life, no matter of the tours. When it comes to tours themselves these are the steps we take:
- Guide (or #YourSerbiaHost, as we like to call our guides) will wear a face mask in closed space throughout the tour. Which means the guide will have it on in the car or closed space and in any other situation when physical distance can’t be maintained.
- The guide will make sure that rules of physical distancing are followed all the time. People easily forget about that once they are relaxed. So we will kindly remind them.
- Single use face masks will be provided, if you don’t have your own. In all our vehicles you’ll find sealed face masks in the seat pockets.
- Hand sanitizers (alcohol based) are available in the vehicles.
- After each tour vehicles are disinfected with sanitizer. All buttons, handles, knobs, hard surfaces, seat belts, etc.
- During the ride interior of the vehicle will be ventilated with outside fresh air. Either through open windows, if pace and outside conditions permit it, or through the vehicle’s aircon.
All the steps we take are not limited to the above, but those are the most important ones.
What travelers can do in order to help
Stopping the spread is two-way street. There are some steps you can take, in order to help. This is a responsible behavior we expect from you as a traveler:
- Please respect physical distancing all the time when possible (1m at least, 2m ideally)
- Please wear face cover in closed space (vehicles, museums, etc.)
- If you develop any respiratory infection symptoms before, during or after the tour, please let us know.
- When coughing or sneezing please use tissues or your elbow as a cover.
- Wash hands with soap and water whenever possible, but especially after use of toilet, before and after meals.
In case you feel sick or just need some medical attention
In case if one of our travelers develops symptoms during the stay in Serbia we will guide you through the steps to get medical care. Serbia has public healthcare system and network of private clinics and hospitals. Only the public one is officially authorized to treat COVID-19 patients. Only the public one is licensed to do the PCR testing. Private laboratories can test for COVID-19 with other kinds of tests, but the PCR can only be submitted in the public medical centers.
If a foreign citizen develops symptoms for COVID-19 during stay in Serbia, one should address to the nearest COVID center for further treatment. The procedure is the same for citizens and foreigners. There are no specialized COVID centers for foreigners only. Some private clinics offer basic COVID-19 examination: X-ray for lungs, blood test, oxygen saturation, antibiotic and other publicly available medicine prescription. But for any other more complex state and treatment, the patient should address the COVID center from the public healthcare system.
If you need negative PCR test to continue traveling
Many countries require negative PCR test in order to allow entry. If you want to get tested in Serbia before you continue your trip elsewhere you can do it in several public healthcare facilities. If you are in Belgrade, you can get tested in every medical center (each municipality has one) or in dedicated testing facilities. More details about how foreign travelers can get PCR tested in Serbia you can find here.
How will we act in the season 2021
Travel business in 2020 was disastrous, we had only 17% of the number of travelers from 2019. Even with such low numbers, we are satisfied with the fact that we didn’t have COVID-19 among our guests. That’s a proof that the strategy we applied was meaningful.
With a vaccine being deployed around the world and mass immunization just around the corner, we look to 2021 with hope. Nevertheless we will continue to apply these steps to prevent spread of COVID-19 until the epidemics is not completely conquered. On each of our tour pages you’ll find information about the measures we take. Probably we will need to this throughout the entire 2021. Anyway, we stay committed to safety both for guests and for hosts.