Measures to reduce the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2
Guidelines and recommendations to be applied by the tour guides in order to minimise the risk of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection in their activity.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus; a virus first detected in December 2019. The most common symptoms caused by this disease are fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include fatigue, aches, runny nose, sore throat, headache, diarrhoea, or vomiting. Some people lose their sense of smell or taste.
RISK MANAGEMENT REQUIREMENTS
Tour guides must establish the actions needed to acquire the resources provided in the contingency plan, as well as those recommended by health authorities (e.g. hand sanitiser, masks, gloves), considering any possible restrictions on the provision of material resources and service limitations stemming from such restrictions, assessing possibilities other than those initially proposed if necessary and recording them with competent authorities.
Measures to be taken
The measures to be adopted in the contingency plan must consider the following:
- Gain information and training on health and hygiene risk prevention guidelines in the activity.
- Avoid greeting other tour guides, providers and visitors with physical contact, including shaking hands. Safe distances must be respected whenever possible.
- If the tour guide experiences any symptoms of the disease, even if they are mild, they should refrain from providing the service.
- Wear a mask (or protective shield) whenever the safe distance cannot be guaranteed and encourage clients to wear them in these cases too. Where a mask is used, dispose of it according to the manufacturer’s instructions and its life span. Where a protective screen or reusable mask is used, it must be properly disinfected after each use.
- Immediately throw away any personal hygiene waste -especially tissues-, including PPE in authorised waste bins or containers.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water or, when this is not possible, with hand sanitiser.This is especially important after coughing or sneezing, and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces (knobs, railings, lifts, etc.
- Disinfect personal items (glasses, mobile phones, microphones, etc.) frequently with soap and water and, if this is not possible, with a disinfectant solution. Use specific products applied with a cloth, or special disinfectant wipes, to disinfect electronic equipment.
- Avoid share work equipment or devices with other tour guides as much as possible. If certain equipment or devices are shared (walkies, radio guides, telephones, umbrellas, etc.), the tour guide must establish cleaning and disinfection guidelines and, failing this, use PPE to reduce the risk of contagion.
The tour guide must inform clients about applicable prevention and hygiene measures, and also:
- Restrictions, limitations or modifications to the service to prevent contagion.
- The preventive measures taken by the tour guide during the tour and which must be adopted by the clients. The latter must be notified to clients before contracting the services.
- The tour guide should urge clients to comply with the measures stemming from the contingency plan.
Design of activities
The tour guide must follow these preventive measures when designing activities:
- Determine how the visit will be conducted and where the tour will go based on the risk assessment and the regulations and/or possible restrictions applied by the various service providers (museums, monuments, natural areas, etc.).
- Prepare one-way routes to avoid groups crossing whenever possible (small towns, historical centres), coordinating in any case with other tour guides.
- Avoid areas likely to be crowded.
- Avoid small spaces with limited capacity.
- Wherever feasible, a single point should be established for getting on and off the vehicle in cities with more tourism in order to facilitate information, application of health and hygiene regulations and control application. This point should be agreed with the competent administration.
- Walking tours and stops for explaining monuments must be done in open and/or wide spaces, respecting the safe distance.
- A maximum number of people to whom the service can be offered safely should be established. If tour guides use their own vehicle to transport tourists (always with the required licence), they must follow the guidelines set by health authorities.
- The tour guide should ask providers used to contract a service (e.g. accommodation, restaurants, coaches, museums, monuments, visitor centres, etc.) for the applicable protocol for the prevention of health and hygiene risks with respect to COVID-19. If this is not possible, they should request and be aware of at least the protocols of the service providers they work with most.
Coordination with tourist service providers
The tour guide should coordinate with suppliers in order to avoid crowding when groups arrive.
- Sending the list of client documentation in advance.
- Handing out room keys inside the vehicle.
- Staggered entrance to the hotel/museum/monument.
- Setting up an appointment.
With regard to client coach transport, the document “Measures to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in tourist road transport” (ICTE, 2020) sets out guidelines and recommendations for the carrier. Passenger transport must follow the instructions given by health authorities at any time (spaces between passengers, safe distance from the driver, etc.). In particular, each passenger must sit in the same seat every time they get on the vehicle.
Pre-activity information and communication
The tour guide must:
- Send the client a document along with the quote explaining the preventive measures that will be taken in terms of health and safety during the service, preferably in the client’s mother tongue or, failing that, in English. This document should be as graphic and illustrated as possible.
- Have access to information on the location and contact details of medical and emergency care centres where a client with COVID-19 compatible symptoms can be referred.
- Welcome and development of activities
The following preventive measures must be enforced:
Before starting the tour/visit
- The tour guide should recall the preventive measures in place and urge compliance with them for the good and safety of others (no touching surfaces, keeping a safe distance, wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, etc.);
- The tour guide must inform the group of how the visit will be carried out, the route and the rules and/or possible restrictions applied by the various providers (museums, monuments, natural areas, etc.).
- Forms of greeting and/or saying goodbye that involve physical contact with the client should be avoided.
- One disposable cover per person should be used for microphones that may be used consecutively by several tour guides.
During the tour/visit
- The tour guide must always appear calm and confident in applying this protocol. Clients must be reminded of complying with this protocol of measures during the tour.
- The Tour Guide authorisation, which must always be worn visibly during the service, must be correctly sanitised.
- The tour guide who chooses to wear gloves must put them on in front of visitors and use them correctly, although hand washing before and after the visit and whenever equipment is shared is recommended.
- Properly disinfected or single-use headsets/whispers/radio guides should be used. If they are not single-use, the client will disinfect their hands before and after use. The client will return these devices, placing them all in a bag which will be sealed. Other alternatives can be considered, such as applications on the tourist’s mobile.
- Printed material such as maps, brochures, etc. should be avoided. If this is not possible, they should be plasticised, and be easy to clean and disinfect, or be disposable.
- The planned schedule should be respected as much as possible to avoid incidents. Improvisations affecting the development and itinerary of the visit should be avoided.
- The work of other colleagues and coordination with them must be respected, especially in places with narrow streets, access to monuments, etc.
The safe distance between the tour guide and clients, and between clients themselves, should be maintained throughout the tour. If this is not possible, a mask should be used and clients should be encouraged to use on too. Clients must be informed of this and whether they must bring a mask.
- Transparent screens are recommended to facilitate communication with hearing impaired clients.
After the tour and during the farewell
- Avoid the use of cash and prioritise the use of cards or other electronic means, preferably contactless, when charging and paying for services and/or providers (e.g. pre-payment online). If cash is handled, hands should be washed or disinfected as soon as possible.
- Protective materials used (masks, gloves, etc.) must be disposed of properly.
The tour guide should consider the following aspects in terms of cleaning and disinfection:
- Using authorised disinfectant cleaning products safely and according to product safety data sheets.
- Increasing cleaning frequencies, especially in areas of greatest contact.
- As a general rule, all materials used during the service must be disinfected at the end of the service.
Client voice reception systems (headphones, whispers, etc.) that are not single-use must always be disinfected at the end of the service and, in any case, before being used by another
- If contact is required, the POS must be disinfected after each use.
- If the tour guide uses their own vehicle to transport tourists, it must be fully disinfected at the end of the service, and daily four multi-day services.