Updates From People Around The World
With many countries beginning to loosen quarantine restrictions and opening in phases we have been checking in with our travelers as well as our staff and tour leaders. Here’s a little trip around the world to check in with the Jeffreys from the US and the Browns from Scotland and get a glimpse of what is happening in their lives.
Rebecca and John Jeffreys, USA
Where do you live? Pepperell, Massachusetts USA
Now that regulations are beginning to lift across the globe, what limitations do you still have in place? We wear masks always. Some restaurants are allowing eating under tents outdoors. Seating is 6 feet apart and there are 6 feet markers on the ground while waiting in line. Most counters have plexiglass shields, and hand washing is required before entering. Services such as massage, gyms and hair stylists are just reopening but only allowing one client in at a time and face masks are required the whole time. Most medical services ask you to sit in your car when you arrive and text that you are there.
What ‘normal’ activities have you been able to resume? The dentist has just reopened, we’ve had repairs done on our home, and we can get groceries with face masks on. Even though we can eat at restaurants, we select to do pick up instead. We are allowed to visit our nearest state of New Hampshire but in order to stay in the surrounding states we must quarantine before traveling.
Where was the first place you went when restrictions were eased? We have yet to visit our parents in New York, but we took a week in Vermont. We had to self quarantine for 14 days before going. The resort was pretty empty and we ate alone at the restaurant and had the pool to ourselves.
Does your city seem to be getting back into its normal rhythm? Our little town is seemingly normal but Boston is struggling. There are numerous businesses that have had to shut their doors forever.
Have you been able to do much cycling lately? Yes! Cycling is the one thing we can do. We have a wonderful 25-mile rail trail in our town plus numerous other trails a short drive away. We also biked Lamoille Rail Trial and Burlington Greenway in Vermont and the Jaffrey Recreation Trail in New Hampshire. At certain hours the trails are really busy so we try to avoid going then.
Are there any habits or past times from lockdown that you will keep as restrictions ease? Rebecca has been enjoy using zoom to connect with people and reached out to numerous people on Facebook and Instagram, making many new friends. She’s also been doing a lot of studying for her business about gut health and nutrition. Cooking has become a welcome habit in our home. John has embraced lunch break with Rebecca and gardening. Neither of us will return to commuting to work since it works so well at home.
Lock down was certainly difficult but what is one fond memory you will take from being cooped up at home? Getting to eat 3 meals a day with our family has been awesome! We also had more time to tackle our flower beds and lawn. We’ve grown to appreciate not commuting and the time it has given us. Morning coffee is the best part of the day!
What are your thoughts on future travel? Where are you hoping to travel next? Where are you hoping to travel next? We really miss traveling and hope to go as soon as we feel safe. Optimistic that 2021 will start better! We will probably make mask wearing a habit in airports and planes. We would like to visit Europe again with ExperiencePlus! Destination undecided.
Heather and Ian Brown, Scotland
Where do you live?
We live in Scotland – spending about 60% of our time in Kirkcaldy, just north of Edinburgh, and 40% of our time in Braemar, which is in the Highlands of Scotland, close to where the Queen goes on holiday to Balmoral Castle and where we went and rode around this past weekend (see middle photo above). There is no law of trespass in Scotland so we are free to roam on private land, including the Queen’s, providing we do no damage. We had a picnic here today and saw nobody! It was stunning – heather in full bloom and looking lovely.
Now that regulations are beginning to lift across the globe, what limitations do you still have in place?
Although part of the UK, Scotland has a separate Government with devolved powers for many aspects of administration, including health and education. Although there is close collaboration between the Scientific advisers of all four countries making up the UK, there has been a different approach to managing the virus. Led by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first Minister, the Scottish Government has been much more cautious in relaxing lockdown regulations than England. This approach, combined with a much smaller population (5.5 million), has resulted in a significantly lower prevalence of Covid-19 cases and a much lower death rate.
Scotland moved into Phase 3 of the route map of 4 Phases out of lockdown on 10th July 2020. Face masks are mandatory in shops and on public transport; the advice is to avoid crowded places and maintain 2 metres distance from other people, wash hands and surfaces regularly and self isolate and book a test if you have any Covid-19 symptoms.
What ‘normal’ activities have you been able to resume?
We have been able to meet up with our Grandchildren, aged 5 and 3 after 3 months of not seeing them at all and recently they have been allowed to give us a hug and stay overnight with us. We have been able to meet a limited number of friends outside, maintaining 2 metres distance. We have been able to cycle throughout lockdown and have done so most days from our house. Travel to our second home was allowed only 3 weeks ago so a lot of gardening and maintenance was required after 3 months away!
Does life seem to be getting back to normal?
Many businesses, shops and restaurants are opening up again, but with extra social distancing and hygiene restrictions. Having been eerily quiet during May and June, traffic now seems to be back to normal. However, gyms, swimming pools and theaters are not open yet and only some churches have reopened for limited numbers, with no singing. Schools are set to return full time on 11th August, although this depends on the number of Covid-19 cases staying very low.
Lots of cycling, walking, DIY and gardening, reading, knitting and jigsaws and clearing out 40 years of accumulated possessions, but with no Charity shops open the garage is still full! With the relaxation of restrictions Ian has returned to fishing and I have returned to golf.
We have done a lot of cycling as this was allowed throughout lockdown for exercise purposes. We have discovered so many tracks around our home of 40 years, many of which we never knew existed. This has been something positive and has kept us sane!
Thoughts on future travel
We would love to travel again but at present quarantine restrictions of 14 days apply to people returning to the UK from a number of countries. We would hope to be able to do our cancelled Austria/Slovenia bike trip with ExperiencePlus! next year. We have family in Perth, Western Australia, and would certainly like to travel there again, especially as their planned trip to us for Christmas has had to be cancelled.
Owing to the restrictions on travel abroad, “Staycations” have been encouraged and all of a sudden our countryside has filled up with visitors. Tourism is an essential part of Scotland’s economy but many rural areas are being overwhelmed by visitors and their permanent residents are anxious about the impact on their own previously Covid free status, as well as on the environment and health facilities.
Fingers crossed for an effective vaccine soon!