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Tour Report - Covid precautions with UPDATE

I’ve just finished a 14 day tour and thought I would focus my tour report on the”Covid” aspects of the tour.

Testing: All participants had negative tests to start the tour. No one developed any symptoms. Several of us that were going on other tours tested at the end and were negative. I can’t say any more about the others since they did not test. I can say everyone who started the tour ended the tour and we had a great time!

Masking: It was clear that there was the usual range of “buy in” about masking among participants. Everyone, however complied with the mandate to wear a mask on the bus without complaints and only minimal reminders. The guide made an excellent presentation at the opening meeting about our shared responsibility to keep the group healthy. I was surprised that some tour members had missed seeing the specific types of masks required or had only brought 1 or 2 masks for two weeks. This all quickly sorted itself out. I personally appreciated my fellow tour members for following the protocol so well.
Very few locals or other tourists are masked out in the community settings. Some of us chose wear masks indoors or in crowded public settings but that was left to individual choice.

Hand washing: Bottles of hand sanitizer were located by each door to the bus. Most participants would use this each time they boarded the bus.

Meals: This remains a key “close contact” time and the amount ventilation and space varied greatly. Sometimes we were in well ventilated places and sometimes we were not. I know that this is an area that RS tours is trying to improve, but change with the restaurant vendors appears to be a bit of a challenge.

Overall experience: I had to bring a few more things (masks, tests, cold medicine-just in case). We had to remember to mask up on bus and were a little more cognizant of health practices. There were few times when I felt uncomfortable with the physical setting and layout of a meal. Beyond that, it was a “normal” tour. We had a great guide, a congenial group, and an interesting and varied itinerary.

I start on another tour in 2 days. I’m hopeful it will be just as positive experience as this one was.
UPDATE: 2nd tour update. Once again the group was compliant with protocols. Fewer people wore masks in crowded indoor settings, but all wore masks on bus or public transport. Group Meals were often in crowded or unventilated settings. These meals lasted over 2 hours each so that was a lot of potential exposure. The fact that at least at one point in time at the beginning of the tour we had all tested negative was comforting. I don’t know if anyone will go home and test positive, but I do know that everyone who started the tour, ended the tour and were without symptoms.

Posted by
2091 posts

Everyone is compliant with masking on the bus except some walk on it without a mask until they find their seat. There are two physicians on the tour and one and his partner mask in crowds on the street and indoors and the other wears a poorly fitting surgical mask that does not fit current protocol even though the rules were discussed on the first meeting. A few more are masking more outside, as the days pass, and indoors but it is hit or miss most of the time. We are masked inside and out. Our first group meal was inside a small, hot crowded place because it was raining. It was not good. No inside meals for us after that.

We start a second tour next week and our fingers are crossed that the next group takes more precautions than this group.
Wonderful tour members otherwise.

Posted by
2847 posts

I’m wait until my tour is over to write a tour report and fill in the details. This is to just let you know not all tours are Covid free. Our guide laid out the rules and for the most part they have been followed

Today is half way through the “Typhoid Mary” tour. So far eight people have tested positive, ranging from no symptoms to feeling really yucky. Rumor is there is a new case tonight. Half of the tour participants have left or are leaving the tour either because she/he tested positive or are the companion to someone who did.

Everyone has been wearing masks on the bus. But there are few masks beyond the required areas. I have continued my at-home practice of wearing a mask whenever I am around people. However, I ate several meals with people who later tested positive. All I can do is wear my N-95 masks; hope for the best; take Airborne; and enjoy the tour and Venice afterwards.
Kathy

9/17 UPDATE: The rumor was true. She tested positive and left the tour along with her travel companion. Out of 24 tour participants, 14 have left the tour, that leaves 10 anxious people wondering “am I next”.

Yes, Jill, it’s the South of France tour. I’m trying to convince myself the numbers are unique to this trip. If everyone would have masked everywhere except in their room and while eating, I think the cases would be less.

Posted by
14153 posts

Carol, thanks so much for the update. I'm glad the health of your first tour participants was without problems and onward to your next adventure!

Diane...ugh. Just ugh. I was on a non-Rick tour last May with 3 physicians. One masked all the time. One masked a lot of time and then all the time at the end. One never masked and he and his wife were the only folks to turn up positive. Hope you continue to be negative!

Horsewoofie...yikes. Stay well and yes, full report after you are home!

Posted by
531 posts

Carol, which tour did you just finish?

Kathy, you're on the 13 day Loire tour, right? Eek...thats the one i start next week.

Posted by
1259 posts

Doctor friend says I can take some minor risks when in airplanes and while touring the world but not to be stupid: Have a good supply of quality masks and wear them, wash/sanitize hands far more often than necessary, maintain distances, avoid both idiots and sick people, seek fresh air whenever possible, be aware, do not hesitate to test if the question arises, and do not resist paying for excellent trip interruption and medical evacuation insurance.

We're all hoping things will change for the better in a few more years.

Posted by
11371 posts

We're all hoping things will change for the better in a few more years.

'...a few more years'

That is a GRIM thought

Posted by
8493 posts

I really appreciated the willingness of my group to put the needs of the group ahead of their own preferences on the bus and their follow through on the commitment they made when signing the safety pledge. Our guide was excellent about enforcing Rick Steves tour protocols in all areas of the bus, but really didn’t have to do much of this because the group was responsible.

Posted by
10287 posts

I am a local and I do mask on all public transportation and inside malls. My Parisian husband masks more than I do. My French, vegan, anti-vax niece who lives in Spain masks whenever it's required.

Posted by
10287 posts

I was under the impression that a lot of the masking on RS tours is to protect the guide also, who has a short season for making a living and doesn't want to be knocked off the job for a week or two.

It's true that it’s more loosey goosey in Europe, eating in restaurants, being in public spaces. All our activities resumed in person summer 2021. But locals are at home. It's more high-stakes for a visitor.

No matter, cases in the under 20 age-group zoomed up from last week with the beginning of the school year. These will trickle up to parents and grandparents and out into the community.

Posted by
2847 posts

If you skipped past my earlier post, read my update to it.
I do not blame the guide and she has handled the number of cases surprisingly well, keeping us informed and always wearing a mask.

Posted by
293 posts

Diane and Horsewoofie, I hope that you both are able to stay healthy despite the positive cases occurring on your tours!

Carol, thanks for your tour report. Glad to hear that your fellow tour members followed the tour’s COVID protocols. I hope that your next tour goes as well.

Posted by
2453 posts

On our first two tours earlier this year, everyone but one couple took masking seriously. That couple wore their masks below their noses and some tour members were really angry at them. Luckily no one got covid on either tour. On our next tour to Scotland, only four of us had our masks on at the initial meeting but then most were good about masking on the bus with a few exceptions. One couple got covid on that tour. They had symptoms for several days and I suspect knew they were positive and didn’t absent themselves from the tour until the final group dinner when they would be leaving anyway. As far as I know, no one else on that tour got sick. On our last tour, everyone was good about masking. One couple who had just come from another tour (RS or OAT in Scotland, I am not sure which) dropped out after the first meeting because of covid. We lost one other couple a few days later due to covid. They had also been on another tour again RS or OAT in Scotland but they may have contracted it from the first couple who dropped out. The rest of us were fine after that. One couple reported that they tested positive when they got home but they may have caught covid at the airport or on the plane. The guides kept the seats behind themselves and the rest of the tour vacant to avoid covid as losing a guide or driver would have been pretty problematic.

Posted by
882 posts

I have not traveled abroad since the start of the pandemic, not yet, but when I do, I will travel independently, wear my mask everywhere, and to the extent I can I will minimize my time on public transport, and I will avoid poorly ventilated / crowded eating establishments.

An earlier post serves as reminder that your ability to mitigate exposure to covid rests not just with you but with the people you travel with, and there are too many people that don't take it seriously for me to even think about going on any tour anytime soon.

Good luck to everyone over there now or going soon on a tour.

Posted by
15510 posts

One couple reported that they tested positive when they got home but they may have caught covid at the airport or on the plane.

FYI, according to the CDC symptoms will appear 2-14 days after exposure to the Covid virus. Not overnight or in one day.

According to Harvard Medical School:

A person with COVID-19 may be contagious 48 hours before starting to experience symptoms. In fact, people without symptoms may be more likely to spread the illness, because they are unlikely to be isolating and may not adopt behaviors designed to prevent spread.

But what about people who never go on to develop symptoms? A study published in JAMA Network Open found that almost one out of every four infections may be transmitted by individuals with asymptomatic infections. The proportion of asymptomatic transmission appears to be even higher with the Omicron variant.

Posted by
547 posts

Just finished a Best of Tuscany tour and masks were worn on the bus. No Covid cases. A great tour!

Posted by
1307 posts

A friend of mine is currently on a RS Switzerland tour.
I don't know about masking compliance but she said this morning that 8 out of 25 tour members have had to leave the tour.
Covid is no joke.

Posted by
4420 posts

You can tell from my locations that masks are not a thing where I live but if I were on a tour that required them (or in the presence of people that I knew to be immune compromised), I would absolutely adhere to those rules. It is totally reasonable, and not judgmental, to expect people to abide by rules they agreed to obey.

Posted by
7384 posts

I live in a state that has always had a low level of people wearing masks, so I am used to that situation. If you come to visit, expect that most people will not be wearing a mask. But, when we are traveling and also going to another country, any of their rules must be obeyed. We don’t get to pick & choose whether we like their traffic ticket rules or mask requirements. (I traveled to Italy twice this summer and gladly followed their mask requirements, carrying my passport all of the time, etc.). The same for the criteria to be in a Rick Steves tour; follow the rules that were plainly stated & you signed, or don’t go on the tour. I am definitely not judgmental. My husband & I are planning to go on a RS tour, but he does not want to wear a mask, so we are waiting until the year that he can comply with the tour rules again before signing up.

You don’t get to pick your vacation and then decide afterwards if you want to follow the rules.

Posted by
1977 posts

Actually it's the role of the guide to enforce the masking. If I were on the maskless section tour, I'd write about my experience and the guide. Management can't do much if they don't know that guides aren't complying.

Good time to remind folks to get their next Covid booster shot!

Posted by
8493 posts

@Joe. The original post is well within community guidelines regarding Covid and travel. As usual, no one can predict how people will respond……I have yet to start a thread on any topic where someone doesn’t change the emphasis.

Posted by
960 posts

Hi everyone,

I've removed a number of posts and edited a few others to extricate a side topic. It was an important one, but it not only violated forum guidelines but also agreed-upon rules that everyone must follow on our tours. It is not clear that the guide was aware of the issue at the time, and we are following up with the guide directly to ensure that this can't happen again and that our protocols are being followed for everyone's well being and enjoyment of the tour.

Posted by
118 posts

We leave in 13 days for our RS tour to Munich, Salzburg & Vienna – last RS tour was end of Oct. 2019 so we are nervously excited.

We have avoided Covid with protocol & healthy lifestyle. We had Bivalent Vaccine Sept. 9

Masks have to fit tight & cover nose – please keep us all safe -

Posted by
170 posts

It is my understanding that N95 masks are required in indoor settings like cathedrals, museums and public transportation, not just on the bus, while on a RS tour. Am I wrong?

Posted by
2091 posts

Jim
N95 Kn94 or the euro equivalent on the bus. I thought masks were required in crowded areas but that did not happen on our tour last week. Most only wore masks on the bus. I wore mine inside and in crowded outside spaces. We had two leave because of Covid. We just tested negative for our second tour starting tomorrow.

Posted by
8493 posts

Bus and any local requirements are the only “have tos”. Guides can suggest mask wearing in other locations, but an individual is always able to wear his/her mask at any time. I chose inside public buildings and outside if crowded.

Posted by
2476 posts

Thanks for the update Carol.
I am cautiously optimistic about my upcoming tour.

Posted by
170 posts

Our tour guide instructed fellow travelers to mask up in many crowded indoor settings like museums. Most did. Some did not. Everybody complied on the bus. Everybody stayed healthy.