British Columbia has implemented new restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 including mandatory masks, travel restrictions and a social lockdown.
The new measures include the mandatory use of masks in all indoor public spaces and retail environments. Additionally a ‘social lockdown' has been implemented that requires people to only socialize with those inside their core bubble meaning household members. A temporary ban on non-essential travel to the province and within the province of British Columbia has been mandated.
BC Premier John Horgan announced during a briefing to the media on Wednesday that a travel ban will be implemented across B.C.
“When it comes to travel, non-essential travel is prohibited in B.C., and it will remain that way for the next two weeks at least,” Horgan said at the briefing.
Travel Restrictions Dampen Hopes For Christmas Trips
The news has further dashed hopes that Canadians could look forward to normal Christmas. Travel restrictions are looking more likely through the holiday season and perhaps the inability to visit vulnerable family members in order to protect them from the virus.
Many people will have been hoping for more relaxed restrictions over the Christmas period which would allow them to travel home or take a vacation for the holiday and celebrate with family and friends.
The extended restrictions now make it less likely that this will be the case. Even though the two-week extension of the non-essential travel ban in BC would mean it ending on December 3, there is no guarantee that the spread of the virus will be under control by then. Indeed, new cases in the province have continued to increase since the initial announcement of the travel restrictions just under two weeks ago, reaching a record high of 761 on November 18.
What’s more, restrictions are unlikely to be eased quickly even if case numbers begin to go down, as authorities will be wary of the potential for another wave of the virus.
Relaxing travel restrictions for Christmas may even make this more likely, as people travel across the country and gather together in large groups indoors, raising the risk of infection.
British Columbians thinking of Christmas skiing vacations to Whistler and Banff may be off the table for now if the non essential travel ban continues through the holiday season.
This will deal a blow to the resorts, which have lost significant revenue due to the pandemic and have made extensive plans to allow them to reopen while observing social distancing. It will also be a huge disappointment to Canadian skiers and boarders desperate to get back onto the slopes after the last winter season was cut short by the pandemic.
Low Key Christmas Across Canada As Travel Restrictions Increase
Although we don’t yet know what the situation will look like for Christmas, it is safe to say that Canadians should prepare for the possibility of a more low-key celebration with their immediate households rather than flying across the country to celebrate with larger friend and family groups.
Stricter measures to contain the virus are also being put into place in other Canadian provinces, for example Manitoba has been moved to code red restrictions, which prohibit all non-essential travel within the province. The partial lockdown in Quebec, mainly affecting Montreal and Quebec City, is likely to be extended until around Christmas, according to Premier Francois Legault – with travel severely limited. Meanwhile in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford is considering tougher lockdown measures for Toronto and surrounding areas in response to an ongoing rise in infections.
Canadians have generally enjoyed a high level of freedom to move around the country since the first lockdowns ended in the Summer, with domestic tourism surging as travellers planned more local rather than international vacations. This is largely because the country had initially dealt relatively well with containing COVID-19, allowing a return to an almost normal Summer vacation season as Canadians flocked to the country’s beautiful beaches, lakes and mountains.
However, this period of relative normality is now coming to an end, at least for the next few weeks and months, as the country attempts to deal with a resurgence of the virus. It now seems likely that tourists will be faced with more travel restrictions this winter – before the rolling out of a vaccine brings the potential end of the pandemic in sight.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories