The Canadian government says it has no plans to restrict Canadians from leaving the country to travel and that it will not imprison its citizens.
In an interview with hosts of ‘The Start' which airs on Canada's Global Television Network, Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau said that a travel advisory is as far as the government is willing to go.
“Ultimately, if someone chooses to travel, we're not going to keep them imprisoned in Canada. There's freedom of movement in this country,” he said.
The statement will be welcome news to travelers looking to escape the cold weather with a warm sunny vacation in Mexico or the more than 300,000 snowbirds who travel south each winter.
In fact, there are more than 75 countries that allow Canadian tourists.
Trudeau's statement did come with a caveat.
“Still, people have to recognize they're putting themselves at risk, putting their loved ones at risk. And they may not have the right kind of health insurance or repatriation flights that we did early on if they choose to leave the country.”
While the government may be looking out for the safety of Canadians, Trudeau's statement wasn't completely accurate.
Connectivity from the United States and Mexico, where most Canadians travel is increasing dramatically and there are now multiple options for travel insurance that covers COVID-19.
There is already a mandatory 14 day quarantine in place for Canadian citizens returning home. All returning Canadian travelers should make arrangements to self-isolate for 14 days away from family upon returning home.
Trudeau did make a great point when it came to availability of health care. The United States health care system could be overwhelmed in areas and Mexico's health care system just can't compare.
If you do get sick with COVID-19, there is no place in the world you would rather be than Canada. The health care system is one of the best and is currently not overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
Trudeau has warned Canadian snowbirds to resist the urge to travel south in search of warmer climates this year.
“I know there's a lot of people worried about what's happening south of the border in Florida, Arizona, California and other places where the virus is not under control or less under control than we are here,” he cautioned. “The challenges around the healthcare system being overloaded down there and access to health insurance – making sure you have coverage in case something does happen – are a lot more difficult.”
Many Canadians are currently weighing their options. When Travel Off Path polled its snowbird community, 32% said they still will be headed south this winter, while 35% of respondents said they would not and 33% were still undecided. Some respondents did however say the only reason they were staying home is because of the land border closure.
71-year-old Ernie Haydon from Waterloo, Ontario commented “I would drive my coach straight to Mexico if I could. This will be the first time in 21 years I don't make it.”
Justin Trudeau said in the interview with Smart Start that the country is committed to keeping the border closed.
“The U.S. is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders. We will continue to make sure that Canadian safety is top of mind when we move forward. We see the cases in the United States and elsewhere around the world, and we need to continue to keep these border controls in place,” Trudeau said.
Many Canadians are thankful they can still travel if they choose.
Countries such as Australia have been criticized for the draconian approach of restricting their own citizens from leaving the country and making it illegal to protest the decision.
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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