A COVID-19 update from Duperier's Authentic Journeys
To our beloved past, present and future clients:
First and foremost, we hope that you and your families and friends are well. COVID and 2020 have presented challenges to everyone around the world – physical, emotional, and financial – and we hope that you have been spared the worst of any of those.
We were not able to run any tours in 2020 as we had hoped because even though the Camino opened, the European Union was not letting in American tourists due to the high infection rate in the States. So, we have set our sights on 2021 in hopes that with proper precautions and hopefully a vaccine, travel to Spain will be safer and permitted. It is a big adjustment for all of us in how we live our lives, and I know everyone is anxious to get back to just that: living our lives.
We do not know when things will return to “normal,” but it will likely be quite some time. So, we are putting in place plans to deal with walking the Camino with Authentic Journeys, knowing that the virus will likely still be present to some extent into 2021.
As of now, we can tell you the following:
- Regardless of what the airlines require, we will require a negative COVID test for each participant within 3 days before traveling with us. Similarly, all our staff in Spain will take a COVID test prior to each tour.
- We have secured rapid COVID antibody tests which test both for the antibodies that you make when you are carrying live virus, as well as the long term antibodies that stay with you for some period of time after you are sick. These tests require simply a drop of blood and 15 minutes. After you arrive in Spain and before we embark to the Camino, everyone including our staff will be tested. If we are able to secure antigen or PCR tests next year, we will use those in lieu of the antibody tests. We believe the greatest risk of infection is after everyone arrives from different places, as opposed to while actually on the Camino.
- We will test frequently the first few days to be sure that no one is developing an infection. Please note that there will be a small surcharge for the cost of those tests, but we feel that they are crucial to keeping everyone relaxed and without worry along the journey.
- Given that transmission risk is highest indoors and in a car or bus, we will of course be disinfecting the bus regularly in terms of surfaces. We will also keep the windows open to the extent possible cognizant of weather and speed. As mentioned above, before we all get in a bus together, we will be using a rapid blood test to screen for infection.
- We are outside for a large part of the day, and almost always eat lunch outdoors. At night, our group will be segregated from other patrons for dinner, and we will of course insist that all of the servers and staff follow proper precautions.
- All of our hotels have private rooms, so unlike staying in an albergue, you will not be exposed to anyone while you sleep.
- For those who want to travel in a small and preselected group, we continue to offer private tours.
- We will comply with the precautions in effect at the time of the walk, including using hand sanitizers and wearing masks.
- We will do our best to keep everyone safe, but obviously no one can guarantee a COVID free environment. Thus, like many businesses, we will be asking you to sign a COVID waiver in addition to our usual participant contract.
The Jacobeo 2021 will likely have many pilgrims traveling. We believe there has never been a better time to travel in a small and friendly group, taking the safety measures that we are taking and communing with each other – but not exposing ourselves to the risk of gathering in indoor spaces with many other pilgrims. Please let us know if you have any questions. We will continue to communicate with you as we head into Spring. Be well. Be safe. We hope to see you in 2021.
The Authentic Journeys Team
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