In a live press conference on January 29, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced strict measures to be imposed on Canadian travel, including the suspension of flights to the Caribbean and Mexico, closure of international flights to all but four airports, new testing requirements, and a three-day hotel quarantine upon arrival in Canada.
Additionally, the nation is continuing to seal its borders to mostly anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident.
Here’s the latest on what we know so far about Canada’s travel requirements.
Suspension of Flights to Vacation Getaways
While some of the travel rules introduced by PM Trudeau are yet to take effect in the near future, suspension of travel to the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America has been enacted as of January 31.
An agreement was made with the nation’s four leading airlines, including Air Canada and WestJet, to halt all sun-destinations flights until at least April 30th. However, services to the U.S. are intact, and Canadians looking to head south would technically be able to do so, given at least one stopover in the States.
All international flights are now being hauled into four prime airports: Calgary International Airport, Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport
Updated Entry Requirements
Travelers must present proof of a negative PCR test result in order to board their flight into Canada and will pay to take a molecular test upon landing. While awaiting the result, estimated at up to three days, passengers will be redirected to a Canadian government-approved hotel at their own expense, pegged at $2000.
Once a negative test result is obtained, they may continue the remainder of the 14-day quarantine at home, under increased surveillance. In the case of a positive test result, they would be bound to stay at a government-appointed facility, to determine whether it is a strain of a new variant.
What if I have a connecting flight?
As the mandatory hotel quarantine is not yet in effect, international arrivals taking connecting flights to Canadian cities whose airports are not one of the four operating airports will not need to quarantine to take their connecting flight.
This, however, changes once the hotel quarantine comes into effect. Travelers will be required to complete their three-day hotel quarantine in the city in which they arrive in once they land in Canada. Once their test returns negative, they may take the connecting flight to their final destination, where they may complete the remainder of their quarantine.
Those transiting in Canada to another country are exempt from testing and quarantine.
How does a 3-day hotel add up to $2000?
A Travel Off Path Community member asked if caviar and a bottle of champagne would be included to justify the $2000 3-day hotel expense. According to the government, the expense covers related fees, such as transportation, security, and infection control. Meals are likely to be included, however, there is no mention of seafood delicacies.
When will the mandatory hotel quarantine take effect?
Although there is no fixed date as of yet, PM Trudeau said it could be as early as this month, “within weeks to come”.
What if I refuse to comply?
Will vaccinated travelers be exempt from quarantine?
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said travelers previously vaccinated abroad will also be subject to quarantine, before adding that the topic is currently up for discussion.
“The scientific principle underpinning the application of vaccines for international travel cannot be made at this time, because we do not know if the vaccines reduce transmission,” Dr. Tam told CBC News.
What if I’m traveling by car?
Considering the land border is currently limited to essential travel, the majority of entries by land are essential workers exempt from quarantine. That being said, the Government of Canada is preparing a 72-hour testing requirement (molecular test) for entry at the land border, with select exclusions, such as commercial trucks.
Additionally, Canadian and American authorities are collectively working on increased safety measures in reference to land mode.
“We will also, in the coming weeks, be requiring nonessential travelers to show a negative test before entry at the land border with the US, and we are working to stand up additional testing requirements for land travel,” said Trudeau.
Air Canada On Issuing Refunds
In a meeting with Parliament’s Transport Committee on Thursday (4/2), David Rheault, Air Canada’s managing director for government and community relations, refused to release data pertaining to the number of passengers affected by the denial of refunds on canceled flights, stating the information could be commercially sensitive.
Rheault added that if/when a government bailout is received, Air Canada would be able to issue the refunds.
Air Canada says that it is not obligated to issue full refunds and that a voucher or credit would be acceptable as the carrier needs to preserve liquidity for when air travel returns post-pandemic.
The Canadian government announced a financial assistance package for Canada’s airlines last November, however, no further information has been released since that date. The financial assistance is contingent on the airlines issuing out-of-pocket passengers the option of refunds. Currently, all four major airlines are issuing optional refunds for customers affected by the suspension.
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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