I recently was offered an opportunity to fly to Miami to combine business with a bit of leisure, happily freeing myself from months of being sheltered. As we enter the cooling month of October, what better time than to be on the coast of Miami except that you have to fly in the middle of a pandemic. I immediately checked to see what airlines were blocking the middle seat. (bear in mind that the most distance you will have from any of your fellow passengers is 3 feet). Only the Alaska and Delta airlines are still using this practice, with Delta ending it in January. It’s important to note that most airlines (not all) have state-of-art high-efficiency particulate air filtration systems (HEPA) that reduces your chances of catching the virus, assuming you are taking other precautions. On the day of my departure, I booked the flight and requested an Uber that was not shared, and that followed the protocols of wearing a mask. I wore a mask with a shield and gloves for my own safety, cracking the window for air to circulate in the back seat and using hand sanitizer when I left the vehicle.
Upon arriving at the Newark airport, it was mandated that a mask was to be used all of the time. The airport was not crowded, and I zipped thru security in no time. There were just a few places open at 600 AM to pick up a quick breakfast, which I ate social distancing from other passengers. I also made sure I used the restroom so to limit getting up during the flight. The boarding process was changed to limit crowding, which I was grateful for, and there were wipes available to wipe down your seat area. I suggest you bring your own to have extras and plenty of sanitizers to use frequently. I chose not to eat the snack offered on the plane to avoid taking off my mask and pretty much slept thru the 3-hour trip. I recognize that eating and using the bathroom may be harder to do when traveling for much longer hours. Once the plane landed at the Fort Lauderdale airport, the same protocols were applied. I was able to catch a Uber where an older gentleman used velcro to put up a plastic shield to protect himself and his passengers as an added layer of protection. I was able to chat with him about Miami tourism and how it was slowly picking up, of which he was grateful yet concerned over a possible second wave.
The team of three and myself stayed at the Marriot Edition in South Beach that was just gorgeous, both sterile and half empty. Even though the Governor of Florida (a Trump advocate) pushed for businesses to fully open against the mandates of local Mayors, restaurants, and hotels were not having it. Strict protocols on social distancing and wearing masks were required. Waiters used both gloves and masks, and there were plenty of restrictions on amenities to avoid crowds and ensure cleanliness. I never saw any of the employees without a mask, and there was plenty of sanitizers and wipes accessible in hallways, the elevator areas, and rooms. To avoid a second wave, these protocols were also mandated at all of the restaurants. Unlike most of the U.S., the Florida weather will certainly support year-round outdoor eating and lodging, helping businesses remain open and workers employed.
Besides working for three days, overeating, and watching the first presidential debate (a disaster), what can you do for fun in Miami during a pandemic? Actually, quite a bit.
There are a number of recreational activities that are safe besides social distancing at the beach. We went kayaking at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, part of a barrier island that is a true oasis and eco-getaway where you can explore every possible water-sport, go hiking, biking, and much more. This beach park has a fascinating history; during the 1920-1950s, it was primarily a segregated beach where African Americans and immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America can go.
There are also plenty of rides and tour on boats of every size, shape, and price on the Miami Bay. We took an early evening ride on a speed boat to the other side of the Miami Bay for dinner. It was a very cloudy sky making the ride a bit mysterious, hoping we would not get caught in the rain. Lastly, another option for those who are not afraid of heights, flying in a seaplane exploring Miami’s amazing coastline and skyline is a pretty wow experience, worthy of its own story next month. You need to be aware that many public activities will be restricted or shut down temporarily.
So, is it safe to travel? For me, I was a bit apprehensive and worried about being at risk simply because we just don’t know that much about this virus. I was confident that I was keeping to wearing my mask when in public and appreciated all those that did. The decision to travel is a personal one. If you choose to travel, you need to take every precaution and not let your guard down and choose destinations that are taking this pandemic seriously and are not having another wave of infection. The blog’s photos are primarily of the Virginia Key Beach Park, Miami Beach, and the Miami Bay.
Click the center of the photo to see the full view.
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