As a man of adventure, you could be enjoined by your colleagues to see the world now that things are looking better in America. And who wouldn’t want to engage one’s wanderlust right? With Gov Cuomo’s orders out and New York state’s restaurants and bars reopening in full capacity, it could send a message of jubilation all throughout the land. Other states could follow suit.
But let’s get things straight. We haven’t achieved herd immunity yet, right? With over 100 million vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, we’re still not over the hump. If that is worrying you, you may have bigger worries ahead. Already, experts are saying we may not be able to achieve herd immunity, no not ever. Worse, the virus is here to stay, they say. It is not going anytime soon. Just like dengue, its effects may diminish but it’s here to stay.
So where does that leave you? All this is telling you traveling these days should be done with guarded optimism, especially when it comes to using public restrooms. Yes, more than any perhaps, the bathroom is the center of exchange in any brick-and-mortar establishment, be it a restaurant, a pub, or a nightclub.
The Risk Factors in the Loo
Think about it. Everyone is in a hurry to get his business done in a public restroom. That means the place is running short on social distancing. Keeping 6-feet distance from a stranger can be the last thing in your mind when you’re about to pee.
Good thing there are bathroom partitions to keep people away from one another. But aside from the useful physical barriers, a public restroom is basically a hub of strangers meeting in a space-challenged room.
Aside from that, toilets are not the most ventilated rooms in an establishment. Not only do they not have windows, but they’re also enclosed, keeping everything in. That means if the virus finds its way there, it’s bound to linger.
To make matters worse, there are tons of ways aerosolized particles are created. Think of somebody sneezing in there. And how about those hot-air dryers? If that is not enough, there’s the case for flushing toilets. If people do that without closing the lid first, that can surely send clouds of these aerosolized particles in all directions.
Then there are high-touch surfaces in abundance inside a public toilet. You have the door handles which you would likely touch upon opening the restroom door. And yes, need we mention the faucets too.
Keeping Yourself Safe
Know that the biggest threat you’ll meet in a public restroom is your direct contact with total strangers. As CDC puts it, person-to-person contact is the biggest culprit in spreading the virus.
In this regard, using a single-stall bathroom where you’re the only one inside is most preferable. Sans that, you should rely on wearing masks inside a public bathroom. Thus, if you find people are not observing protocols and are talking to one another without masks, you might want to think twice before you enter.
To encourage proper distancing, it would be good if urinals and sinks are taped off alternately. Thus, if you enter a crowded room, you should already raise a red flag.
If you can’t maintain proper spacing, then you can practice proper timing. Wait till most people are out to get to your business, assuming you still can hold it off.
The Prospects of Hand Washing
As your hands can act as a magnet for all things viral, make sure you don’t leave the common bathroom without washing your hands. Know that we are facing a virus that’s already sent over 500,000 Americans to their graves so observing proper routine should not be too much of an effort.
You can say it’s low-tech but washing your hands is an effective way to stop the virus on its tracks. Soap and water, government bodies agree, is the best way to get that done.
This is where bringing an ample amount of hand sanitizers in your travel becomes handy. It means you can get the protection you need even when the restaurant you’re in is short on supplies.
And yes ditch the hot-air dryer routine. Instead, use paper towels. It’s more effective in removing residual viruses compared. Plus, it doesn’t spread aerosols in the air.
Being on your guard always is key, especially when you’re in a public place. Complacency can be our biggest enemy more than the public toilet.
As much as possible, plan your travel itineraries. Skip public places for now when you can. As the Greeks say, pain is temporary and glory is forever.