How This CEO Has Been Able To Travel Safely Over 30 Times In The Middle Of A Pandemic

Mika Manninen has been away from home for approximately 75% of 2020 thanks to a specific health and safety routine he’s been adhering to.

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Manninen is the CEO and co-founder of Hälsa Foods, a dairy-free yogurt company that began in Finland, but is now based in Palm Beach, Florida, where Manninen also lives. Manninen has taken 33 flights, four of which were international, and spent over 160 nights in hotels and major cities throughout the past six months. In fact, throughout the entire pandemic Manninen has spent a total of nine days in his own home. 

As a CEO, Manninen is an essential worker and one of 11.3 million Americans who are employed by the food and agriculture industry. He’s the only person in his company who travels as he doesn’t want to risk any of his employees travelling if they don’t need to. Because of this, he makes sure to adhere to each state’s specific health and safety requirements and has quarantined for two weeks in hotel rooms multiple times if the cities require it. 

Manninen claims that there have been several trips he’s skipped out on due to the risks involved and a lack of clear lockdown procedures from certain hotels or cities. In order to maintain the highest level of safety, however, for the trips he does go on he makes sure to follow his own specific set of rules depending on how he’s travelling and what accommodations he will be experiencing wherever he resides. 

“When I check into my hotel room, I clean every surface with wipes — all door handles, light switches, the remote control and the phone. In the bathroom, I also wipe down the shower-head.”

If Manninen is staying in a hotel for multiple nights he only lets the cleaning service into the room every fourth day, as he feels that every time he lets someone else come in to clean the room he has to go over everything all over again to feel really comfortable. He leaves things like trash and dirty towels outside of the door, as most hotels have a contact-free policy for replacing things like toiletries. 

When at the airport, Manninen claims that he worries a lot less about risk of infection once on the plane, but in the airport is a different story. He wears multiple layers of disposable gloves and peels them off as he navigates the airport to avoid cross-contaminating surfaces he’s touched in the airport and his own belongings. He claims after every elevator, tram, check-in, security-check stop, etc. another layer gets peeled off, and has made him extremely aware of how many surfaces we touch on a daily basis.

When he’s waiting for his flight to board he keeps his distance and sits alone in any available corner he can find. He doesn’t buy anything at the actual airport but if he does get a water bottle he’ll wipe it down with disinfectant. He also makes sure to always use a paper ticket, as individuals who use their phones typically press their screens right on the scanner, which can lead to more cross-contamination. Once on the plane he avoids the bathroom at all costs but if he absolutely needs to use it he’ll switch his mask afterwards.  

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“I expose the least amount of skin as possible and I don’t let my skin touch any surfaces. Change your mask every four hours; it’s safer and oddly gives you a feeling of freshening up.”es.”

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Manninen also makes sure to wipe down every single surface once on the plane; his seat, seatbelt, arm rest, table tray, etc. Once he arrives at his destination, he typically needs to rent a car, something he’s done 22 times so far this year. Every time he spends about 10 minutes cleaning the car before driving to his hotel, which involves using sanitation wipes to clean the steering wheel, seat belt, key slot, seat adjusters, and any other surface he knows he’ll be touching while driving. 

This routine seems like it’s really specific to the current pandemic but the reality is Manninen developed it over a decade ago to avoid the flu. He claims that with the amount of travelling he’s done for his line of work, there was a time when he would get the flu up to five times a year due to his demanding schedule. 

The biggest difference now is the masks and gloves being added and Manninen claiming that people don’t look at him like a “paranoid germaphobe” anymore. Manninen has been tested for Covid-19 two times within the past few months, both of which were negative. However, he still claims to be fearful of infection, especially the times he’s had to travel to Europe. 

When he does come home, Manninen claims it to be a relatively lonely experience, as most people avoid any sort of contact with him. He has to quarantine in his own house and live his days out under the assumption that he did get infected with Covid-19, just to be safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions against any sort of travel in the US due to the increased risk of infection. So if you have to travel for work like Manninen, consider adopting his routine and feeling that extra layer of security.