It’s easy for travellers to think of protecting themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19 as they’re settling into airplane or restaurant seats or checking into hotels. But sometimes consideration for others goes out the window, especially when it comes to protecting service personnel at airports, shops, hotels and restaurants, on airplanes and in taxis.
There’s something about travel – perhaps it’s being in a different place and the relative degree of anonymity it often affords – that can make it easier for otherwise thoughtful people to behave badly.
Empathy, civility and consideration are key elements when interacting with service personnel during the pandemic. Think of the sheer volume of customers and guests they engage with hourly and the vast spectrum of human behavior they have to deal with when so many are on edge.
Put yourself in their shoes and do all you can to help miminise their health risks and anxiety. Remember that keeping service personnel safe is not only the right thing to do, but it also ultimately benefits everyone. Here are a few tips to help you do so:
Check the rules first
Before you enter an establishment, check and follow the COVID safety rules often posted at the entrance. Remember, as much as your entire brood might like to crowd into that lovely patisserie to order pastries, many places limit the amount of customers allowed in at once for good reason. It shouldn’t be up to service personnel to police customers who don’t comply. They’re under enough stress as it is.
Keep your distance
Back away from staff. There’s no need to get up in someone’s face to make your request or announce your arrival. Don’t dart your head around or over the plastic barrier to talk to service personnel. If they can’t hear you, they’ll let you know.
Wear your mask properly; that means covering both your nose and mouth at the same time. It doesn’t work if it’s dangling from one ear, around your neck or your wrist or only covering your chin or forehead. Only remove your mask to eat or drink. Keep it on when interacting with staff, even when outdoors.
Don’t be a chatterbox
Limit interactions with staff to those that are necessary. Keep your gregariousness in check and don’t hold extended conversations with them. Unfortunately, now is not the time. Don’t raise your voice or launch into song, even to sing Happy Birthday at a restaurant. Limit the Von Trapp family sing-along moments to your home.
Keep it small and safe
Keep the size of your party to a minimum. Make sure everyone in your party is properly masked when they’re not eating. That goes for children of mask wearing age too. And although it’s never a good idea to let young children have free reign of a restaurant, airplane or hotel lobby, it’s especially true now. If they’re out of sight, you can’t see if they’re properly masked or social distancing.
Limit your alcohol intake. It’s all to easy to slide down the slippery slope of not appropriately social distancing when you’ve had a few drinks, and your inhibitions dissipate. There’s a reason why many countries are closing bars during the pandemic.
Keep it clean
Clean up after yourself. Especially don’t leave napkins or tissues you’ve used to cough or blow your nose on the table. Better yet, don’t cough or blow your nose in a restaurant.
Tip staff more than you usually would. Be patient, polite and understanding of delays or mistakes. Remember that staff sizes have been cut across hotel chains, airlines and restaurants and that there is more pressure on fewer employees to safely make customers happy.
When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Doing so will help us all get back to some semblance of the world we knew before as safely and quickly as possible.