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Summer vacation in a pandemic: what transport to use and how children should travel safely

Vacaciones de verano en pandemia: qué transporte elegir y cómo deben viajar los más pequeños de forma segura

28/06/2021

Are you going to travel this summer? What means of transport is the most appropriate for these trips and what precautionary measures should be taken? What is the safest way to travel with children during this pandemic? 

Summer vacation is around the corner and after spending so much time in the same place due to confinements and the vaccinations, our need to travel and enjoy ourselves has increased. When choosing the most appropriate means of transport, several aspects need to be considered, such as whether you have been vaccinated or not, the distance you are going to travel and whether traveling with children. Despite all of this we must still ensure social distancing and the use of masks on means of transport. 

In this regard, it should be noted that many children are not required to wear a mask. It varies according to the country. For example, in Spain only children over 6 years of age are required to wear a mask. If traveling with younger children who do not have to wear a mask, it is recommended to choose a means of transport that allows for social distancing or only traveling with close family members. 

HOW TO TRAVEL BY CAR

In these cases, traveling in your own car is a good option. We remind you that children must wear the child restraint system approved for their height and weight until they can fasten a seat belt, something that usually happens when the child reaches a height of 150 cm. Depending on the country, the use of car seats is mandatory up to a height of 135 cm, such as in Spain, or up to 150 cm in Germany.

If you are hiring a car, remember that many companies offer the option of hiring a child restraint system. If you have your own CRS, the safest and most comfortable option for your child will be to use the car seat you have already been using. If, on the contrary, you rent a CRS, make sure that it has been previously disinfected, especially due to the global pandemic. Here we talk about the safety options offered by car rental companies for young children.

Vehicles such as motorcycles guarantee social distancing. However, it is not a suitable means for a long trip with a child as a passenger. 

HOW TO TRAVEL BY AIRPLANE

So what's the situation with airplanes? Airlines are gradually recovering their travel routes and have put in place precautionary and preventive measures to reduce the possibility of contagion. In this sense, we need to consider the restrictions or requirements in the different countries at the time of travel. On one hand, the requirements requested at the place of origin and, on the other hand, those required at the place of destination. We recommend being well informed before the starting the journey to avoid problems. 

Currently and since June 7, all passengers coming from a country or area at risk (except for children under 6 years of age) must provide one of the following supporting documents for the requirements established by the health authority: have been vaccinated against COVID-19, have recovered from COVID-19 or a diagnostic test (e.g. PCR or rapid antigen test), performed 48 hours prior to travel, with a negative result. It is important to have this documentation on hand at all times. Likewise, the Health Control Form (FCS) associated with the trip must be completed (not required for domestic trips within Spain). Passengers must wear masks at all times (mandatory also for those over 6 years of age) and perform frequent hand hygiene, as well as maintain social distancing. To achieve this, canceling seats is recommended to respect social distancing. Masks with exhalation valves are not allowed.

It should be noted that only passengers with a boarding pass can enter the airport terminal. Accompanying persons are allowed as long as there is a justified cause, such as unaccompanied minors or people with disabilities. 

Likewise, it is important to point out the EU Digital COVID Certificate which will start to be implemented on July 1, 2021. From that date onwards, people vaccinated who have passed a negative test or who have recovered after suffering from the disease will be entitled to obtain an EU Digital COVID Certificate, and also if they have been vaccinated before the date of application of the EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation, and even as part of a clinical trial. There is an introductory period of 6 weeks.

Once in the aircraft, moving around the cabin should be limited to the minimum possible and contact with aircraft surfaces should be reduced. Most airlines have restricted taking hand luggage into the cabin so we suggest checking-in all luggage items. If traveling with a push-chair, ask the airline how to proceed. 

Although it may vary from one company to another, children under 2 years of age may or may not occupy a seat. If they occupy a seat, a child restraint system approved by the European Union in compliance with ECE R44-04 must be used. If the child is under 8 months old, some companies offer comfort cribs for babies up to 11 kg. It is also advisable for other children to use a child restraint system approved for their height and weight. Here are some more safety tips for traveling by airplane with children.

HOW TO TRAVEL BY BUS

Bus companies have also implemented important safety measures to avoid contagion following the recommendations of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport. 

As with airplanes, the use of face masks is mandatory for all occupants. (In Spain) children under 6 years of age are also exempt. In this sense, they advise to carry enough masks according to the length of the trip and the manufacturer's own indications. 

To avoid contagion, the consumption of food on board is prohibited, except for drinking water. It is also requested to avoid talking to other passengers or on the telephone to reduce the aerosols emitted as much as possible.

To reduce contact with the driver and for greater protection, in most cases the ticket is digital, the passenger can carry it on his or her mobile device and identify himself or herself with his or her ID card to access the bus. You cannot, of course, change the assigned seat. Likewise, the adjoining seat should be blocked so you can travel with nobody next to you. This services usually has a cost. 

When traveling with children, it is recommended that they travel with an approved child restraint system adapted to their height and weight, although this is not currently possible in many buses as they usually have two-point belts. The two point seat belt does not affect children, that is to say, they are used for both adults and for very young children since they are fastened below the waist, on the pelvis. However, this is not particularly safe for children under 6 years old and it offers far less protection than a three-point belt. On the other hand, a three-point belt  may not be correctly adjusted and we will then need to use a booster seat. Here we go into more details on bus travel for children.

HOW TO TRAVEL BY TRAIN

Trains have also been disinfected and cleaned. For example, RENFE has obtained AENOR and SGS certificates against COVID-19. Thus, in addition to avoiding contact by establishing digital ticketing or constant disinfection, access to the boarding area is only allowed 90 minutes before train departure. 

Boarding is done in an organized manner, with preferential access for the elderly, families, people traveling with children or baby strollers, and people with reduced mobility.

Likewise, social distancing is ensured by means of signs or markings on the floor and reminder messages. In addition, ADIF has installed temperature measurement cameras in large terminals. 

Disembarking or getting off the train at the destination is done progressively and, of course, the use of masks is mandatory for those over 6 years of age. 

On the train, it is not possible to use the usual child restraint system used in vehicles because the seats do not have seat belts, although it is possible to use a portable restraint system provided that it has tether straps to attach it to the seat.  Here we look closer at this matter.

Finally, in this infographic we offer recommendations on how to travel by different means of transport

CRS

 
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