The COVID-19 pandemic is both a motivator for the 2021 ConnecTour ride and a complication. From week to week, new developments either bring waves of optimism or concern. And yet we are confident enough to move ahead with plans for this year’s ride.
As we approach our May 15th departure date for the cross-Canada tour, new questions are emerging: Will travel restrictions between provinces be lifted? How many people will have received vaccination? Can we travel safely together as a group? What is the health protocol when we arrive at our nightly destination?
The ConnecTour team is closely monitoring the rapidly shifting sands of the pandemic and assessing how it will affect our plans. Here is where we stand.
Under current circumstances, the 2021 ride will proceed as planned. The ConnecTour team is confident that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, that vaccinations will start to roll out en masse in spring, and that with careful planning, common sense, and rigorous protocols our group can ride safely across the country.
photo Victor He – UnsplashCycling is, after all, inherently a healthy way to travel: Long, breezy days in wide open spaces reduces the risk of infection to a minimum.
That said, your health and physical well-being are our Number 1 priority. There are a number of practical measures that we will be taking to ensure everyone who participates in the ride is as safe as possible. Safety is also a team effort. Every participant is expected to do what they can to minimize the risk to themselves and others in the group.
Here are answers to some of the most common questions we’ve heard:
Q: How can I be confident no one on the ride has COVID?
A: We will require all participants in the ride to show proof that they have tested negative for the coronavirus in the past 72 hours before their ride begins. It is impossible to predict at this point how widely distributed the vaccines will be, but we strongly encourage those who can get a vaccination before the ride begins to do so. We also ask all participants to self-screen for two weeks before the trip, and self-screen every morning during the trip. Each province has information on how to self-assess. You can read Ontario’s advice here. If you are having symptoms, we will help you self-isolate until a test confirms you are COVID-negative.
Q: What are the safety protocols when we stop for rests during the day?
A: The group will essentially be a COVID-free bubble. That said, common sense dictates that we keep the standard two-meter safe distance from each other, and wear masks when interacting. When visiting a public place, riders will be expected to wear masks and to follow best practices, such as thorough hand washing and frequent sanitizing.
Q: What about when we stop for the night?
A: The group will be safe when they don’t interact with others, but we need to follow protocols when engaging with anyone outside of our bubble. The ConnecTour team will be closely monitoring to ensure participants understand and adhere to the spirit of these safety measures.
Q: How will you observe safe practices when preparing food?
A: Anyone involved in the preparation of food is to wear a mask and hand-sanitize frequently. While there will be common dishes, extra care is required to prevent potential contamination of food, including designating one person as server.
Q: What if someone on the ride starts showing signs of COVID infection?
A: The ConnecTour team will be highly proactive to ensure group members are not put at risk under such circumstances. If any rider shows symptoms typical of an infection, they will be isolated from the group and we will seek medical assistance at the first opportunity. They will remain isolated until they are confirmed COVID-negative.
Q: If vaccines don’t become available until June or July, can I get one during the ride?
A: In all likelihood, no. You cannot receive the first shot at one location and the second shot in another. If you are not vaccinated when you start the ride, then you probably won’t be able to get vaccinated until we are done.
Q: Under what circumstances will you cancel the ride?
A: We will almost certainly not cancel the ride. However, the ConnecTour team has prepared a list of contingencies if the COVID situation takes a dramatic turn for the worse. One possibility is to postpone the start date of the ride. Another is to scale back the size of this year’s ride. Again, we do not expect this to happen, but in the interests of caution we have prepared options to consider in a worst case scenario.
Q: Will I get a refund if the ride is cancelled or if I can’t participate?
A: The short answer is yes, you will receive a full refund, subject to the conditions clearly outlined in our “cancellation policy”. You can read more on the registration page here.
Q: The Atlantic Provinces still have a 14-day self-isolation policy for anyone entering them. What happens when we get there?
A: We fully expected that by the time we reach the New Brunswick border in late August those restrictions will be eased. In the event that they are not and we cannot continue, participants will be refunded for that portion of the trip. Alternately, other route options may be discussed.
Q: What happens if we are not welcome in a town because we might be seen as super-spreaders?
A: The advance team has been reaching out to destinations across Canada along our route, and has received very positive feedback. It appears we will be welcome everywhere we go. However, if any community shows a wariness about our presence, we will know about it before the ride begins and will choose another destination.
This document was prepared in consultation with infection control experts.