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To go or not to go (out)

“On most days, the safest and easiest choice to make is to simply stay at home.

Lia Andanar Yu

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Going places has never required so much preplanning and organizing as it had in the previous year.

Whether it be a 30-minute walk around my neighborhood, a 30-minute drive to the nearby mountain and farmlands or an hour-long essentials shopping run at my preferred supermarket, all require some degree of planning so as to abide by health and safety protocols.

I wonder when we’ll be totally carefree again about going and hanging out with friends and relatives on a whim.

I watched this video on Netflix yesterday, a documentary on Japan by Joanna Lumley released back in 2016.

In one of the episodes, she made mention of how the Japanese practice courtesies such as mask wearing when one is unwell, particularly in Tokyo.

Depending on where you live, it’s something they have been doing many years before the Covid-19 health and safety protocol of precautionary or compulsory wearing of face coverings to help curb the spread of the disease.

One of my best friends who lives in Japan has mentioned to me in the course of our many conversations over video call this past year that they quickly and somewhat effortlessly transitioned to pandemic protocols because they are used to wearing masks and have always had this unspoken rule of ensuring not only their own wellness, but that of the people around them.

The rare times I go out with my small household bubble, it is a reassuring feeling when I see the people around me taking the necessary precautions as well.

I keep safe for myself and them, and it’s a relief to see them do the same, especially in situations where there are no security guards nor figures of authority to force them to comply.

A caring and responsible attitude toward self and others is what it boils down to and is then reflected in common courtesy.

Remember those wonderful days when it was your day off school or work, and you’d decide to eat out, window shop, go for an impromptu drive, or get a foot massage at the spa just because it seemed like a fun or relaxing idea? Nowadays, you have to consider things like the possible number of people at your planned destination, whether news items or Department of Health statistics report it as a Covid hotspot, or the amount of work that needs to be done when you get back home, such as disinfecting your handbag and everyone and everything that goes inside your front door.

I inquired about the procedures I would need to follow if I were to take an hour-long flight to another city.

The person in the know at city hall told me that I need to secure a medical certificate from my barangay stating that I am fit and healthy to travel and not on their Covid-affected list.

I would then have to get a chest x-ray from a duly recognized clinic or hospital.

Afterwards, I would have to go online, submit an application form, schedule an appointment and then go to the City Health Office to attend my appointment to determine whether I will be given a certificate, which will allow me to travel or not.

This permit will need to be presented to airport and airline staff to be able to check-in for my flight and board my plane.

On some routes or destination cities, they require you to get a travel pass from police authorities.

By the way, there is also a Passenger Profile and Health Declaration form, which you will need to submit online prior to your departure date.

I am not complaining though.

On the contrary, I am grateful that local governments and the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) are doing what they can to ensure that if people do decide to travel for essential reasons, they can be assured that everyone else on the plane with them have undergone the same stringent procedures that they themselves have gone through.

On most days, the safest and easiest choice to make is to simply stay at home.

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