The expiry for Canada’s sunny destination flight ban is quickly approaching on April 30, 2021, which has Canadian airlines crossing their fingers for international travel resuming as early as May 1st.
On January 31, 2021 Canada adopted one of the strictest border entry restriction procedures in the world by effectively shutting down all inbound and outbound travel. Canadian airlines suspended all flights to sunny destinations (like Mexico and Jamaica for example), all incoming flights were cordoned to just 4 Canadian airports, and strict double-testing and mandatory hotel quarantines were put into place.
The flight restrictions immediately gained massive amounts of criticism, as daily flights were still permitted to go back and forth to major sunny US cities like Miami and Los Angeles, which have exponentially higher case numbers than many sunny destinations like the Bahamas or the Dominican Republic.
Could sunny destination flights restart in May?
With the sunny destination travel ban set to expire on April 30, 2021, all major Canadian airlines are planning to resume their vacation-destination routes, with some tickets available for sale the very next day.
WestJet has flights restarting to Mexican destinations like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta from Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver beginning on Sunday May 1st.
Sunwing has vacation packages that include round-trip airfare and all-inclusive hotels leaving Toronto’s YYZ airport on May 1st heading to destinations like Cancun, Punta Cana, Varadero and Montego Bay.
Two Canadian Airlines Hint Flights May Not Resume Until June
While WestJet and Sunwing signal they are ready to fly for May 1st, the two other major Canadian airlines, Air Canada and Air Transat, aren’t showing the majority of their restart dates until June.
Air Canada is selling a few tickets to connectivity hubs like Mexico City and Kingston in May, but aren’t resuming their sunny leisure destinations like Antigua, Cayo Coco, and Nassau until the first week of June.
Air Transat updated their travel advisory on March 11, 2021 to read “Following measures announced by the Canadian government, our operations are temporarily suspended until June 14, 2021.”, which may hint an extension is on the horizon.
Major travel restrictions will still apply
If flights to sunny destinations do resume on May 1st, it’s doubtful that any Canadians will be taking leisure trips, as strict travel restrictions are still in place.
Even though many sunny countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic are welcoming Canadian tourists to visit without testing or quarantines, Canadians still have to provide proof of a negative test to board the flight back home, get tested again upon arrival, and enter a mandatory 3-day hotel quarantine while awaiting results. Upon receiving a negative result from the test on arrival, the passenger will then be required to fulfill the rest of the 14-day quarantine at home.
Some recently inoculated Canadians may be eager to return to leisure travel, but even being fully vaccinated will not allow returning Canucks to bypass testing and quarantine rules.
Hotel Quarantine Set To Expire April 21, But Will Likely Be Extended
The mandatory hotel quarantine came into place shortly after the sunny destination flight ban and is set to expire on April 21, 2021, but the government of Canada has not released if the hotel quarantine program will be extended or discontinued on that date.
On Monday, an injunction against the hotel quarantine policy by a constitutional rights advocacy group was denied. The Canadian Constitution Foundation is arguing that the mandatory policies requiring returning Canadians to spend the first 3 days of their 14-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel are “overbroad, arbitrary and grossly disproportionate,” – especially for people needing to travel for compassionate reasons.
Since the mandatory hotel quarantine was put into place, data has been published showing only a 1% positivity rate from foreign travel. The data confirmed that 1% of reported COVID-19 cases resulted from travel outside of Canada, 98.4% from domestic acquisition, and the remaining 0.6% from unknown sources.
US aims for a May 1st Travel Restart
As vaccinations happen across the U.S. at record pace, aviation and travel industry leaders have called on the Biden Administration to lift travel restrictions and reopen borders for all international tourists by May 1, 2021.
This request could see the land border between Canada and the USA reopening as soon as May, if the two nations can come to an agreement of how to proceed safely. With over 125 million doses of vaccines already administered in the states, a May reopening might be possible as a large number of Americans will already be immunized, and hopefully by that date, Canadas’ most vulnerable.
While some argue the return of flights to sunny destinations is reckless and dangerous, there are equal arguments from travelers not heading abroad for leisure, but instead for essential reasons. Couples separated by flight bans, Canadians with family members through Mexico and the Caribbean, and even snowbirds trying to return home are hoping for the resumption of flights this spring.
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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