I know it’s important to have a plan in place. But how? Do you ask hotels? I’m sure they will say no. If you are there, what are you supposed to do? I read that article where they sent a couple in Florence to a special covid hotel somewhere and it sounded nightmarish. It’s not like places will want you, or are even available during busy times. I’m just curious how people “plan” for a quarantine place.
I haven't done it so I am just speculating. However, in my work life I was a project manager, which involves arcane artifacts such as "work breakdown structures" and "risk management plans". So I'll rough out how I might do this using those handy tools from my rusting old toolbox.
Starting with the risk management plan, list all the worst-case things you can possibly think of, in no particular order:
- my employer imposes negative consequences for not being back on time (docks pay, demotion, firing...)
- I get sick enough to need medical or hospital care
- my existing hotel kicks me out
- I don't have enough money to live on for a few extra weeks, or I can't access my bank accounts (fraud, no internet, can't get to ATM...)
- I have dogs/aging parents/children who need me for care and the situation I had in place for them can't be extended
Then, examine each risk closely and decide on a H/M/L rating for two things: Severity if the risk does happen, and Probability of the risk actually occurring. The ratings are personal, there aren't really objective rating scales as it depends on your own situation. Especially for the High Severity/High Probability items, spend some time planning in detail the actions you would take to either reduce the probability of the risk happening or the severity if the risk does happen. But you can go as far down the risk matrix with action plans as you deem necessary. For example:
Risk is "I need health care when I'm over there". Actions could be:
- buy health insurance and evacuation insurance before you leave. Understand the precise conditions for its use (e.g., have to call them before accepting any care at your location). Put the contact number in your phone and on a paper list
- find out how to obtain health care at your foreign location. Is there an English-speaking doctor or hospital? Get the address and number. Put them in your phone contacts and on your paper list...
- get a copy of any information about your current medical conditions. Translate them into the local language. Put English and local versions in your phone notes and on a paper list...you get the idea.
Risk mitigation actions are classified either as ones you do in advance to prevent the risk from occurring or from being severe, e.g., buy health insurance or ones you do only IF the risk occurs. Try to write down specific, concrete actions you will take, so you don't have to think about it when it happens and you're under stress. The reason this works well is that you have time to think of creative, specific actions and either do them now to avoid risk or prepare to execute them later to limit the impact of the risk, even if your brain is buzzing with stress chemicals.
As far as lodging specifically, I think my advance-action would be to book a second lodging on a separate reservation that is cancellable right up to the day before your flight home. While you're at home and have calm time, ensure it has useful features such as nearby grocery delivery or restaurant meal delivery, near that doctor you found, or has room service, whatever you think you need. Then cancel it as soon as you get your negative test in hand.
The work breakdown structure then lists all the actions you have identified that you intend to do in advance, with the details of due dates, details of insurance requirement, lodging requirements etc.
And the quarantine plan is the combination of the two - all the things on your WBS that you will do, by when, to prepare for departure and all the specific risk mitigation actions you will only do at the foreign location if things go south.
Sorry if this is a bit pedantic - but it is exactly how I would approach it and might keep your stress down if you can see it on paper (or on screen.)
Nelly: That was fantastic!!!!
Nelly, Fantastic!! Although many of us think we're organized and can handle what-if situations, in the moment we may not be. Your planning details are very insightful and comprehensive. Thank you!
Probably the difficulty is in the timing and events starting upon a positive test.
Certainly ask your hotel about a "what-if", but be prepared for reluctance to commit or discuss. In my experience, one hotel just refused to answer, another was "if available", which I would expect, I suspect others may just politely say they have "no availability" for your possible dates. You can look into Air BNB or other places, but obviously you will not reserve or commit simply based on a remote possibility.
But beyond that, upon testing positive, the authorities are notified and your information given. You simply will not have time to shop for essentials and find an alternative lodging. Italy at least does not handle it as an honor system where you go off and do as you please, you are monitored and quarantine enforced. Once they contact you, they are not going to wait several hours while you find a place to stay.
Well, I'm glad a few of you found it helpful instead of "she is a complete nut case, this is my VACATION!"
One key aspect I forgot to mention is this exercise helps you decide what NOT to worry about. If a risk that you identified is low probability and low severity, you can wipe it right out of your worry brain. It probably won't happen and if it does, it's not a big deal. Then you can focus on predefining actions for the big stuff.
Anyway, I'm going to put my work tools back in that rusty toolbox and go back to retirement...it's snowing here in the Abruzzo mountains and it's just a beautiful sparkly evening...
Nelly, I'd forgotten you moved! So does the Italian government pay for isolation if someone tests positive and does one have to go to a government facility or does one have the choice to find their own lodging?
What about taking a home test before you have to take an official test? That way if you test positive, you can make quarantine plans on your own without fear of being sent away somewhere or being denied an Airbnb, or hotel? Just a thought.
Lulu348 - great topic. And Nelly, I found the process you outlined particularly helpful.
@lulu348, I think that a pre-test is a terrific action item to give you time to execute on a quarantine plan. But I think one should be careful about using that time to go out in public to collect supplies, knowing you were infected. Packing up and moving, if necessary, with good masking/distancing would have to be done. But shopping maybe not. Phone calls/emails/ordering deliveries sure. So I guess your quarantine action plan would include packing along some spare tests and how to implement your plan at lowest risk to those around you. My two cents.
@Pam, the question of who pays is clear if you test positive on arrival. Italy is doing random arrival tests now. I found a recent citation:
"In the event that the test proves to be positive for the molecular or antigenic swab, "the traveler is subject to the measure of fiduciary isolation for a period of ten days, where necessary at the Covid Hotels". What does it mean? It means that those who test positive on entering Italy will have to pay the quarantine costs in a Covid hotel." Il Giornale Dec 25, 2021
It's more interesting in the case of a pre-departure positive. It's not Italy that is keeping you here as much as it's the U.S. not letting you in. But Italy wants to be sure you're not infecting anyone in Italy while you are waiting. I haven't found a direct citation but I have also not heard anywhere that Italy pays for the isolation stay. My unsupported opinion is that it would be your travel interruption insurance policy that would pay, if it is in the policy, or you'd have to self-pay. But a search of recent Italian articles didn't find anything concrete.
I didn't find anything specific about pre-departure payment, but also not a single mention of specific COVID hotels that people are forced into. That doesn't align with the article that was posted here recently, but maybe those people got booted from their existing hotel without an alternative plan?
The very vague rules state this:
"If you test positive for COVID-19 when taking your PCR test to return to Canada or if you have received a positive result less than 14 days before your departure, you will not be allowed to board a flight to Canada;
You must isolate, whether you have symptoms or not. You must contact the Italian National information line to get instructions on isolation. If you have a Canadian mobile phone dial: +39 0232008345 / +39 0283905385. The line is open 24/7 and is staffed by healthcare advisors from the Operations Room of the Italian Ministry of Health. Regional health authorities will follow up with you providing further instructions." Canadian Consular Services
Interesting discussion! I hadn't really thought it through before Lulu's question, but as we're headed to Switzerland next week, I'd better put together my own plan.
That couple told the hotel they had covid, without a plan if their own! The hotel called authorities and they were whisked away!
"That couple told the hotel they had covid, without a plan if their own! The hotel called authorities and they were whisked away!"
But Lulu, we still don't exactly know what that means. We know what the couple told the reporter but we don't know the official side of that story and It is indeed written with the intent to get readership.
Thank you Nelly for the interpretation on the Italian isolation/quarantine rules. That news story kind of got me to wondering exactly what the situation was and if folks were being billed for a hotel that the government places you in. In France, of course, I knew it was all on my own dime.
As to the pre-test test, I DID take a box of home Covid tests with me when I traveled in Sept/Oct to France. I did one the night before so I would not be shocked if it came out positive and yes, so I would have a little time to figure out a plan. I was wearing an N95 at all times anyway for that trip but had made myself very anxious about it. The home (un-proctored) test was negative as was the one I got at the Pharmacy.
Make sure you have room to pack them in your personal item on the plane. The directions say they are to be protected from very cold weather so it may mess up the results if they are in your luggage in the hold and get very cold.
Nelly — what an extraordinary response — a very generous sharing of your time and expertise. Wow. I wish we could make that a featured post somehow.
Kim, Ditto to Nelly’s explanation and response. I’m taking all of this information into account as I plan and replan our first trip to Italy next fall (originally spring).
Nelly, thanks so much for your suggested analysis in making go/no go travel decisions during the pandemic! So helpful. Thanks also to all the other posters for your thoughts on this subject.
I’ll be a solo traveler for a 13 day RS tour beginning in late May and I’m in my late 60’s (higher risk category) and still working full time so this is a complex decision to make. Fortunately I get lots of vacation time. But when I need to add in arriving a day or two early and factoring in that I might need to quarantine for 10 days after the tour if I test positive before my return flight to the US, this trip could use up much of my 2022 vacation time. But then again I haven’t traveled since June 2019 and I’m not getting any younger. :-)
I’m also considering doing a solo trip to one country instead of an RS group tour to try to minimize additional potential COVID exposures on the bus and during group meals, etc. However, I love taking RS tours!
This is all excellent information. One more question to add: with a pre-departure test to return to Canada or the US, if it is positive, then your flight would have to be cancelled and rebooked (is that cost on the traveller), then the person quarantines and again tests positive after 10 days, is another quarantine period required (presumably and then that return flight would have to be cancelled and rebooked (would the cost of that return flight be assumed by the traveller) This could potentially become an extremely expensive trip. Hoping to travel in April. thankyou
with a pre-departure test to return to Canada or the US, if it is positive, then your flight would have to be cancelled and rebooked (is that cost on the traveller
Well, it is not on the Italian or US Government, the answer would depend on your travel agreement with the Airline. If you have a fully refundable/changeable ticket, then just make changes. If the airline has a liberal cancellation/change policy, then you may save some fees, but have to pay the fare difference. If you went ultra-cheap economy, no refund, no change, then it could get costly.
then the person quarantines and again tests positive after 10 days, is another quarantine period required (presumably and then that return flight would have to be cancelled and rebooked (would the cost of that return flight be assumed by the traveller
There is a good chance that after 10 days you could still test positive, just the nature of what the test is detecting. Many of the instances I have seen, the person either tested negative, or they received a statement indicating that they recovered and the isolation period was completed. The US allows this for entry. However, all this assumes you have been monitored by a Doctor, and exhibit no active symptoms.
This could potentially become an extremely expensive trip
Yes, it could. That is why you might want to start with considering airline change policies, considering travel insurance, find out how your employer might react to you coming back two weeks late, having a bit of a financial buffer, whatever applies in your situation.
thank you so much for the quick response. It is much appreciated. Lots of planning ahead for me