The COVID-pandemic is an ongoing international problem for almost two years now. Traveling to foreign countries is not easy and comes with a serious risk. Even though most countries try their best to keep the virus away, a certain number of infections is inevitable everywhere. For big cities as Lisbon is tourism an important source of income, so keeping the country from going into lockdown is essential. But how do hostel accommodations decrease the change of infection among travelers from all over the world?
Hostels are cheaper than hotels because of the shared bedrooms, shared bathrooms, and common areas. You can make your own dinner in the kitchen and watch a movie with the rest of the visitors in the living room after. Perfect for individuals who try to socialize with other travelers. But because of a fast-spreading virus, this way of traveling is more dangerous. The Goodmorning Solo Traveller Hostel in the center of Lisbon, is aware of the risk and tries to reduce the possibility of infection as much as possible.
Bruno Portocarrero (27) has been working at the hostel for three years. He states: “We’ve been very strict with showing a vaccination certificate and negative tests. Even though the government says that we don’t need to do all those things, we still do. Because our hostel is all about socializing and getting to know people, we want it to be safe. So, we try to be very strict and try to make sure no one comes in here infected.”
All travelers entering Portugal must present a negative PRC or Antigen test, regardless of their vaccination status. Besides that, everyone must complete a passenger locator card and you must always be in possession of a covid vaccination certificate or proof of recovery. But the covid-check at the border and the double check at the hostel, cannot always avoid spreading events.
Portocarrero continues: “It did happen recently that a couple visitors tested positive. We gave everyone with COVID a separate area with bathrooms included, so they would not use the common areas. We warned all the guests that they could leave when they did not feel comfortable and that we would refund the remaining nights. We did not take any more reservations and the hostel was closed for only the people who were already staying here. No one could come in for about two weeks, so nobody could get infected anymore. We take it very seriously and we always try to stick to basic rules like wearing masks, sanitizing hands etc.”
Tibbe Froma (19) from the Netherlands, was one of the infected visitors at the hostel. He decided to travel during his gap year and had to stay in Portugal seven days longer than planned. He explains: “I arrived at the 28th of December 2021. After a couple days I did not feel well and took a self-test. I feared the worst and I turned out to be positive indeed.”
He immediately informed the hostel and took an official test the day after, which was positive too. “I got isolated in a separate room on my own. The next day after the official test, I was put in the quarantine room with four other travelers in the hostel. The ages ranged from 25 to 60 years. I was the youngest myself. Vaccinated or unvaccinated did not matter, the room was all together. But we had a good time. We played cards every now and then and tried to make the best out of it. I preferred to be in quarantine with others because then you are in it together. It ended well and no one has been very sick.”
“Of course, the quarantine was a setback, and my whole travel plan was knocked over. But I was in very good hands. The staff of the hostel cooked a hot meal for us twice a day. Breakfast was brought to the room every morning, and we were well taken care of. So no complains there. I was aware of the risk when I started my journey. But I have to say, I didn’t think it would happen to me. I’m always an optimistic person and I think everything will work out. But of course, that’s not always the case. I’m just very lucky that I did not get very ill. This experience has caused me to make other plans for my trip. So, in the end it probably must have all been this way. I’m now going to Mexico and hopefully leave COVID behind.”