How to have a happy COVID-19 holiday

Remember to keep your distance. Picture: Shutterstock
Remember to keep your distance. Picture: Shutterstock

It's the eternal parental problem - but with a difference.

Where do we take the kids this holiday and what do we pack? How does COVID-19 change those choices?

As the school holidays beckon, the virus intrudes.

Wherever you go - a "staycation" or on a trip - the rules apply: keep your distance from all but your closest family and wash your hands frequently. The virus is still out there and it is coming your way if you don't prevent it.

If you've got symptoms like a dry cough and fever, stay home and get medical help.

Take the sunnies by all means, but also think about packing hand sanitiser and maybe a mask (surgical not ski - unless you're going skiing).

So where should I go?

Not to Queensland, Tasmania or South Australia because they won't let you in, at least not without making you stay in quarantine for two weeks (which would be pretty miserable for a holiday).

So the Gold Coast and the wineries of the Barossa and Tamar Valley are out (unless you already live there - but then it wouldn't be a holiday, would it?)

Bali? Where's Bali? International travel is out, out, out and will be for a while.

Which leaves those with wanderlust (and the money to fulfil it) a choice of up to the mountains or down to the sea.

Up to the snow?

In the United States, ski resorts were one of the hubs of the virus. At one stage, one in seven of the cases in Colorado could be traced to a ski resort.

But Australian resorts are adamant that they have put precautions in place.

If you go, get used to the slogan: "Live Together, Ride Together" - families can share lifts but nobody else can. Demand is high as the resorts open this week, so there might be queues. Shops will limit numbers.

Disease expert Professor Hassan Vally of La Trobe University advises: "Many ski resorts will operate at about 50 per cent capacity to ensure social distancing, which means some people may miss out on accommodation and lift passes.

"Furthermore, all resorts are asking people to book resort entry and lift passes well ahead of time, to help with planning. Same-day lift ticket sales will not be available at many resorts.

"Besides the usual warm clothing, pack hand sanitiser and perhaps even a few face masks for times you're not able to physically distance."

Maybe the sea sounds better?

In NSW, the rules now are that holiday homes and holiday rentals can have a maximum of 20 people. There can't be more than 20 people unless everyone is a member of the same household.

But 20 people is a party, so the coast may be the direction.

Many camping and caravan sites are open with the social distancing rules we've become used to.

Some sites remain closed. Social distancing and hygiene regulations in shower blocks, for example, make it difficult to operate within the rules.

Book first.

Melbourne is nice, but...

Melbourne really is nice. Go for a walk on the beach. Take a tram. The National Gallery of Victoria opens on Saturday. Lots there.

Including COVID-19.

Another 20 cases were announced on Wednesday, the eighth day in a row when the number of new cases was in double figures.

With the spike in infections, you might want to think twice - and certainly think twice before going to the hotspots within the city.

Epidemiologists point out that the rate of infection is still low, but the crucial reinfection rate (which indicates whether the disease is spreading or contracting) is going up.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has advised people to "rethink any travel to Melbourne whatsoever".

Sydney is nice too

Harbour Bridge. Opera House. No clattering old trams.

And some COVID-19 - but unlike in Melbourne, all of the recent cases are travellers who have returned from abroad to be put in quarantine.


Canberra is starting to feel normal-ish, with only a few isolated cases recently. Flights to and from Sydney and Melbourne have recently been increased. Galleries are open - but you will need to book a slot and chances are they've already gone.

Maybe a 'staycation'

It's cheaper, but after lockdown more of the family may be a bit too much - except that there are countless programs to keep kids occupied.

Some of the rules have changed, according to Courtney Tanner of Kids Biz Holidays and Sports, but a lot of fun is still available.

"We are not having excursions," she said, "but we will stick with on-site activities."

To minimise contact, participants can dance or improve their basketball skills at a distance.

She recommends a livestream from the aquarium in Sydney, where you can watch various aquatic animals being fed but also penguins waddling.

Maybe travel far but stay at home

The Aboriginal organisation AbSec has a list of websites and virtual tours of galleries and zoos around the world: "You can also explore cool cultural history in museums like the British Museum, with online exhibits on Egyptian Mummies or early humans or if you have somewhere more specific you would like to go like the Great Wall of China, that is possible too! You can also take an online tour to see the world-famous Louvre in Paris or do a special tour of the Met in New York, tailored especially for kids. If these two aren't for you, browse through a long list of online museum tours.

"You can check out the world-famous San Diego Zoo, or if you want to stay a bit more local, Melbourne Zoo offers a great online tour as well.

"You might also want to check out Yellowstone National Park and if wild animals interest you, you could have an experience with some polar bears or take a dive and explore our great oceans. However, if you want to see some slightly more tame animals, maybe a tour of a farm is for you."

This story How to have a happy COVID-19 holiday first appeared on The Canberra Times.