My heart goes out to the poor soul at the Port of Seattle who had to write today’s guidance for Spring Break travel, which amounts to: Go ahead and travel, but also, do not, and if you do, this is how you should do it, but you shouldn’t.
Port officials are gearing up for the heaviest travel season since the pandemic began, God help us, and have issued advice for anyone planning a nice relaxing getaway in the waning days of whichever death-wave we’re currently in. They’re not saying you should come to the airport, exactly. Their vibe seems to be that if you happen to find yourself standing in the Sea-Tac terminal while holding a ticket to Key West with your name on it and clutching a suitcase with a selection of skimpy swimsuits and tanning oil, well, then you might as well go through with it, so here's how.
“The pandemic paused leisure travel for the last year,” says the Port of Seattle’s advisory. “Now, travelers are more comfortable booking trips with the right planning and precautions to stay healthy.”
The Port's very first recommended precaution is to “check travel guidance,” and includes a link to Governor Inslee’s advisory … urging all Washingtonians not to go on vacation. Well, shit.
But let’s say you’ve decided that your vacation is absolutely essential, what then? Well, the Port recommends that you check the Centers for Disease Control’s guidance (which also urges that you stay home) and adhere to a testing and quarantine schedule before and after your trip. The CDC also recommends that travelers get completely vaccinated at least two weeks before traveling, and to quarantine for a week after traveling. (Washington says you should quarantine for two weeks.)
If you’re heading to Sea-Tac, they’ve implemented a few measures to help move people along as safely as possible: Security lines are spaced out further than usual, you can pre-book your parking, and COVID tests are available (with an appointment) inside the airport itself. Masks are required throughout the airport, and there are nearly 300 new hand-sanitizer stations positioned throughout the facility. Most of the businesses in the terminal are now open with takeout-only service or reduced seating, and there is a new pop-up bar serving shots on Concourse B for anyone looking to sterilize the inside of their esophagus.
There are a few additional measures that the Port is asking Spring Break travelers to take: Keep your distance from other people, don’t load elevators with more than four people, wash your hands frequently, and don’t touch your face.
But what about the simplest action of all, which is just staying the fuck at home? Yes, yes, it would be nice if everyone did that. It would be nice if we were all willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort now in order to protect the health of others and reduce the time spent in lockdown. But who do we think we are, New Zealand?
Look, I get it. People are going to travel. They shouldn’t, but they will. So there might as well be some systems in place to keep the potential harm to a minimum — at least, that is, the harm to others. The harm to the pandemic-vacationer’s personal reputation will be up to them to manage.