See also travel policy: Updates
We continue to add to our collection of posts related to the current travel restrictions. Our last post was back in November 2020, but there have been several significant updates since then. This post will build on that post, rather than simply repeating the information found there.
The Canadian Government continually updates their website with the latest travel rules and this post breaks down some of the key highlights along with a commentary.
Who can leave Canada?
The short answer is: anyone. The site only “advises” to “avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada” until further notice. Then it goes on to provide how best to protect oneself, along with warnings of travel risks. But there are no outright restrictions or laws against leaving the country probably due to the debate on Charter of Rights whereby Canadians should be free to travel in and out of the country without restrictions.
Maybe there is a reason that government did not put much restrictions on people from leaving Canada. Some might even say having less people would help to reduce the strain on our system if they needed any sort of medical treatment whatsoever. Travellers coming or returning to Canada is probably the bigger concern.
Who can enter Canada?
There are more restrictions on who can enter the country. The following people can enter Canada:
- Canadian citizen
- Dual Canadian citizen with a valid Canadian passport or special authorization
- Permanent resident of Canada
- Person registered under Canada’s Indian Act
- Protected person
- Foreign nationals (including United States (US) citizens, can travel to Canada only if they’re eligible)
There is also talk of strengthened travel restrictions by the Canadian government. So we will watch this progression carefully.
Another issue here is whether there are flights available to come to Canada. With so many different routes temporarily or permanently cancelled, it may take some re-routing to get here, which increases the risk to travellers.
Since January 7, 2021, air travellers who are 5 years old or more have been required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding any flight bound for Canada. Furthermore, after arrival, there is still be a mandatory 14-day quarantine or isolation period.
During the 14 days (even with no symptoms and a negative test), people entering Canada will need to prove that:
- They have a place to stay
- They have arrange for transportation to their destination, get groceries and access essential services and medical care
The penalties for not following the quarantine rule “can” include:
- A fine up to $750,000
- 6 months of jail time
- Being found inadmissible, removed from Canada and banned from entering for 1 year
CTV provided a recent low profile update in December 2020: Hundreds of people have broken quarantine rules in Canada – and some paid a hefty price. CTV also reported that between March 25, 2020 and November 23, 2020 the following penalties were issued:
- 107 tickets
- 8 summary conviction charges
- 124 verbal warnings
- 18 written warnings
What I have been curious about is how much enforcement has taken place? If you look at the numbers mentioned above, it does not seem like a high number of incidents relative to the number of cases in Canada.
In other words, I personally think that those are relatively low numbers of infractions, and if true, I do question how much is incoming travellers really contributing to transmission. Because based on those numbers, I am assuming the majority of inbound travellers are following the quarantine rules then?
Even with the low number of cases related to breaking quarantine being reported (mentioned above), it is still difficult for us to endorse any sort of non-essential travel. Furthermore, we do understand that a balance needs to be struck between giving people freedom to move around versus being safe. Even if we are travellers at heart and are itching to go on an adventure after such prolonged lock-down, health and safety always takes precedence. Therefore, we are airing on the side of caution which means we even recommend being very selective of what you really consider “necessary” travel.
We understand that some people feel that the term “essential travel only” is vague. Perhaps it comes down to what our personal definition is rather than putting it on the government? So if you do decide to travel, I would say be responsible and understand that it is at one’s own risk.
In the meantime, if anyone has any new information on this, please feel free to share with us in the comment section below!