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Experts on Newsday panel talk about staying safe while traveling

Beach seating was widely spaced last month at

Beach seating was widely spaced last month at Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa. Credit: Barry Sloan

Long Islanders can still look forward to summer vacation, but travel will require additional planning, according to a panel of local experts.

Vacations are an important way for people to relax amid the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Dr. Michele Reed, owner and medical director of MS Family Medicine Health Care, P.C., in Garden City and Rosedale, Queens.

She recommended that Long Islanders avoid states with enough COVID-19 cases to land on New York's travel advisory list, and instead dine at a new restaurant, try paddleboarding or venture to a destination that's close by.

“We need time to rest, de-stress, communicate with our family — spend time with them," said Reed, the health and wellness ambassador for Discover Long Island, which promotes tourism on the island. “But let’s be safe about what we’re doing."

Reed and others who spoke Wednesday at a Newsday Live web event urged Long Islanders to call destinations ahead of time and ask about cleaning and safety standards. Travelers should inquire about whether establishments enforce mask wearing rules, how they monitor their employees' health and cleaning practices.

Families do not need to avoid using air conditioning while driving, Reed said. She noted that it is unhealthy to delay using the bathroom, and recommended that Long Islanders bring two pairs of gloves for rest stops.

Travelers should wear one pair while opening doors and remove them before using the facility. Reed said people should wash their hands, use paper towels to open doors and then put on the second pair.

"Before you get in your car, just take your gloves off again and use some hand sanitizer," Reed said. 

Before booking hotel stays, Long Islanders should verify that rooms are not used for 24 to 72 hours between guests, which allows for sufficient cleaning, according to Mark Irgang, President of the Long Island Hospitality Association, which represents lodging and entertainment venues. 

Many hotels are removing frequently touched items, but Irgang recommended using sanitizer to wipe down any remaining pieces, such as TV remotes, pens, pads, mugs and hair dryers. He noted that menus should be digital or disposable, and that grab-and-go options and outdoor dining have largely replaced breakfast buffets.

While flying, travelers should avoid packing items that must be placed in bins at security screening stations, according to Robert Sinclair, manager of media relations for AAA Northeast. He suggested that families bring their own snacks, but noted that certain foods, such as sandwiches, may require travelers to use the security bins.

Once on the plane, Sinclair said travelers should wipe down their surroundings, which is easier now that people can bring up to 12-ounces of hand sanitizer on flights.

“It’s recommended that you clean your seat, the arm rest, the screen, those little buttons for changing the TV channel and the audio — just wipe all those things down," Sinclair said. 

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