Safe ways to resume travel during coronavirus

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Americans are taking more caution with summer travel plans during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Only 14 percent of travelers feel safe taking a domestic flight, and 17 percent feel safe at a hotel or resort, according to a survey by MMGY Global for the U.S. Travel Association from late April. 

Travel lovers are hopeful to venture out once the COVID-19 pandemic passes. 

But travel lovers are hopeful. Once the COVID-19 pandemic passes, more than half of the respondents from the survey said they’d venture out of town again with four in 10 saying they’ll likely travel by plane, and 1 in 3 saying they’d vacation closer to home.

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Here’s how to navigate safe travel and transportation:

Hotel stays

Hotels will likely be stripped of communal amenities like pools, spas and buffets. If they’re not, consider social distancing, health experts say. Upon arriving to a hotel, the travel industry suggests opting for non-contact payment solutions for things like check-in and considering food ordering apps and electronic ticketing for events or excursions to maintain social distancing with others.

TRAVEL INDUSTRY RELEASES NEW CORONAVIRUS RELATED HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES 

Car rentals

Zipcar, the car-sharing company, has added antiviral and antimicrobial solutions to its car cleaning service, the company said in a recent blog post.

“We’ve also promoted additional healthy hygiene and safety practices within the team that works behind the scenes to care for our vehicles,” the company’s website says.

Hertz rental cars put out a 15-step cleaning and disinfecting process for inside and outside of its vehicles, which will now be certified with a "Gold Standard Clean," to show customers their cars have been sanitized, the company's president and CEO Kathryn Marinello said in a statement. 

And Enterprise car rental company has also ramped up its health and safety measures, ensuring customers their vehicles have undergone "vigorous cleaning and sanitation procedures," according to its website.

Road Trips with recreational vehicles 

Roadtrips are a safe alternative to avoiding public transportation and a number of RV rental companies have seen an uptick in bookings.

According to a recent survey from RVshare, an online RV rental company, an overwhelming majority (93%) of users said they are looking to avoid crowds while traveling in the next three months.

"While the rush back to airports or hotels in busy cities may take a little more time, many will turn to RV travel. Renting an RV is the ideal way to travel to not only avoid large groups, but a way to escape into nature and spend time outdoors," a spokesperson for RVshare told FOX Business in an email. "With their means of travel, cooking, and sleep all on board, their trips can be completely self-contained allowing people to get back to traveling while doing so responsibly."

CORONAVIRUS DRIVES UP RV RENTALS, SALES

Bookings increased more than 1000 percent this month, the company said. And rentals can be an affordable option for travelers looking to get away throughout the summer. RV rentals typically range from $175 a night up to $300 a night depending on the make and model.

WHY IS GLAMPING TAKING OVER THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY? 

Biking 

If you’re having a permanent staycation in your home city or one that provides rental bikes be sure to wipe down handlebars with disinfectant as the virus can live on surfaces for 24 hours or up to a few days depending on the substance.

Citi Bike, for example, has expanded bike cleaning efforts by wiping them down once they return to shops and valet stations.

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Is Houseparty safe? What you need to know about the popular video chat app

Houseparty is the app that lets you play virtual games during a video conference with friends and family.

It’s become a massive hit since the coronavirus lockdown was put in place but it’s also been targeted by what it calls a ‘smear campaign’.

On Monday, the video messaging app’s makers denied claims circulating on social media that it has led to other online accounts – like Netflix or eBay – being compromised.

They then went on to offer a one million dollar bounty (£811,000) to anyone who can provide the service with proof that it was a ‘paid commercial smear campaign.’

Epic Games, the company that owns Houseparty, is also responsible for the mega hit Fortnite. It said that it had found ‘no evidence’ of a breach in its security and claims that it doesn’t collect any passwords for other sites.

As expected, cybersecurity professionals have descended on Houseparty and the general consensus is that it’s highly unlikely the app is stealing other account passwords.

‘There are two separate issues being discussed around Houseparty: First, it appears that many users are not aware of the privacy implications of how the app works and how people can “drop-in” when they don’t want or expect them to. This can obviously lead to awkward situations’ explained Christoph Hebeisen, director of security intelligence research at cybersecurity specialist company Lookout.

‘The second issue is the assertion that third-party accounts are being “hacked” through the House Party app. 

‘These claims cover a wide variety of third-party services such as music and video streaming services as well as financial services.  While there are numerous reports from users online we did not find any evidence to indicate that the HouseParty app as available from official App stores is to blame for compromises they are experiencing.’

The app encouraged users to use a unique password for each account and to use a password manager to keep track of login details, ‘rather than using passwords that are short and simple’.

This message was echoed by Javvad Malik, a security awareness advocate at KnowBe4.

‘There are a lot of comments on social media about accounts getting taken over with the finger of blame being pointed at Houseparty,’ he said.

‘There is no evidence to prove these claims, and neither is it clear how these accounts are being breached. It could be that bad actors have gained access to the passwords of Houseparty users and using those passwords against other websites.’

For its part, Epic Games maintains that users opt for a unique password for each account and to use a password manager to keep track of login details, ‘rather than using passwords that are short and simple’.

 

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