When will International Travel restrictions be lifted in Canada?

When will International Travel restrictions be lifted in Canada?

Last Updated on September 13, 2021 by tripcentral

Canada is among the highest countries (top 20) administering “first doses” of vaccines.  We’re nowhere near fully vaccinated, but our daily pace of vaccination rollout is picking up more momentum and it looks as though the worst should be behind us by summer. 

When will Airport Hotel Quarantines end?

Brought in to curb the demand for travel more than the real effect of stopping the virus, these expensive, inconvenient, and controversial airport hotel quarantines are the biggest deterrent on demand for international travel.  Without the mandatory hotel stay, there would be a ten percent (or in the teens) of normal demand.

Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents are no longer required to quarantine or take a day 8 PCR test.

The UK has the most forward-thinking (and somewhat complicated) policy on travel restrictions, and it has a RED LIGHT status for countries that have large-scale outbreaks requiring the airport hotel quarantine followed by strict at-home isolation.  Of course, at any time, a country could move from YELLOW to RED status, even after booking.

When will 14-Day Home Quarantines end?

Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents no longer have to quarantine or complete the day 8 COVID test upon return to Canada. For passengers who are not fully vaccinated, there are no changes to Canada’s border measures.

A pilot project at Calgary airport was short-lived.  Passengers arriving could opt for voluntary rapid testing and be cleared from home quarantine after a few days and two tests.  Then the third wave set in and the pilot was effectively moot.  Hopefully, rapid testing prior to departure and returning home will be convenient, and while imperfect, will catch cases worthy of further testing and quarantine.

The UK has a YELLOW LIGHT status on countries with moderate outbreaks requiring home quarantine on return.

How long will PCR Testing Prior to Departure apply?

At first, this was quite difficult because it was announced without warning.  Destinations were not equipped to handle the instant demand of thousands a day requiring a test no earlier than 3 days prior to departure, and no later as the results were not instant.  Testing availability has improved. Early signs show a trend where countries will waive the negative PCR test proof for those fully vaccinated.  Our guess is that the G7 will establish a standard, and provincial proof of vaccination records will suffice for the short term until a more permanent global system is established. Make copies of your vaccination slip, take pictures of it, and save it in multiple places – on your phone, computer, email it to yourself and significant others.  If you lose it, it will be a new complication.

It is evident that there will be some countries, cruise lines, tour companies, and maybe even airlines, that will make their own policy requiring vaccination or nothing.  It is entirely within a corporation’s right to make these decisions, and major cruise lines have already done it.  The cost of social distancing and accommodating unvaccinated guests is too high, and the market demand amongst the vaccinated is high enough to fill ships, planes, and hotels.

What if I don’t want to get vaccinated?  Will I be able to travel?

If you want to go to Peru and hike the Inca trail, you need a yellow fever vaccination.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Like any substance going in our bodies, it has risks. 

If variants are still circulating in countries with low vaccination rates, expect that there will be stricter restrictions on travel for those who are not vaccinated.  There may be medical reasons that make vaccination too risky – who knows what exceptions there might be in those circumstances.

Our non-medical recommendation is to get vaccinated as soon as possible if you want to travel internationally.  It will be FOREIGN governments making demands of this requirement, and there will be nothing to be done about it.  If you are not vaccinated, you will be restricted on where you can go, possibly subject to quarantines on arrival in destinations, multiple tests, and quarantine on arrival back in Canada.

For some with a hesitancy to get vaccinated, being able to travel is enough to move from hesitant to rolling up the sleeve.  And if you want to travel sooner than later, the sooner you get vaccinated, the sooner we all hit that magic 75% number, and the sooner these restrictions can abate.

What about when I’m vaccinated?

One dose, no difference.  14 days passed two doses and some countries and forms of travel will be more open to you than without.  As of July 5, 2021, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents no longer have to quarantine or complete the day 8 COVID test.

For this to be “a thing”, we will need herd immunity in Canada and the destination country, with no epidemic in the destination country.  Obviously, the chances are higher as we approach September.

How likely is travel THIS SUMMER?

Iffy.  Planes are in the air right now flying within Canada, in and out of the US (many are surprised), to Europe and Asia.  You can connect via the US almost anywhere.  But – you face that airport hotel quarantine and the remainder of 14 days at home under strict rules. 

That said, things are picking up, well beyond first estimates.  Countries may have the “GREEN LIGHT” between them in late summer, but this will be entirely unpredictable.  If even the airport hotel quarantine is lifted, we could see late summer “visiting friends and relatives” flight only activity.  This will be a short booking window, where the conditions suddenly exist, and hotel accommodation is not an issue.  In fact, it was announced today that flights between Italy and the US will be quarantine-free regardless of vaccination status with pre-flight and post-flight negative testing. If you want to visit friends and relatives this summer, stay tuned – we’ll let you know when things break.

There are rumblings about more inter-provincial restrictions on air travel.  The Atlantic provinces have had the most restrictions.  We think these rumblings are a bit late!  By the time they enact something like this, cases and hospitalizations will be dropping further.  Why we have no rapid testing for domestic flights is still a mystery but travel this summer within Canada could be somewhat like last summer – a bit awkward but doable.  Once again, a short booking window will mean more friends and family visits.

Fall Travel

Still iffy.  We are comfortable recommending November and beyond at this time.  While we say this, the assumption is a deposit booking with final payment due 25-42 days prior.  Further, we strongly recommend purchasing the best supplier cancellation waiver possible.  Worst case, you lose your $100 or $200 deposit if you cancel before the final payment.  Or pay a modest change fee and any difference in fare to postpone the trip to a later date.

October is possible and optimistic, but we do not recommend booking now.  Our preference would be for our customers to wait on booking anything for early fall until “planes are actually in the air” to the southern destinations. 

Winter 2022 Travel

We think it is wise to book RIGHT NOW.  Deposits are low.  Take the cancellation waiver for maximum flexibility.  If you wait, expect to be among two years pent-up demand for southern travel – and there are the same number of hotels.  With a fixed supply of hotels and global surging demand, if you wait, prices will go up.

The smart money is on booking now for winter travel.  We also recommend weekend departures. If there is a lighter than normal schedule, 7 and 14-night durations departing on weekends are far less likely to cancel.  The high-volume destinations are also much more likely to happen compared to smaller, more limited, and niche destinations.  Remember, if you book something and not enough seats sell, or restrictions are more stringent (more likely in a Grand Cayman and other smaller destinations), you will have to re-book at prevailing prices at that time.  The value of your trip will apply to a new booking based on new prices.

Booking a destination that is less likely to cancel is also a smart move.  Places that were for sale in winter 2021 before the grounding of flights are a good bet.

Cruising and Europe 2022

It’s hot!  Many people are surprised.  Cruisers are die-hards and again, two years of pent-up demand in a global market.  Americans cruise in huge numbers from home ports.  Many river cruises are near fully booked for 2022 with so many re-bookings and new demand.

Most cruise lines offer some refundable deposits making booking risk-free.  There is no hurry to lock in flights now.  Typically, you can’t book anything more than 11 months in advance.  That said, if the price is right, and it’s a route that is reliable, locking it in might be the smart money.

Watch out for those BASIC FARES.  The lowest price is not the best deal in an uncertain market.  We expect to see them return as the market recovers and they are highly restrictive.  They cannot be changed at all, and you can’t even rebook the value of the ticket against a new ticket.  Look carefully at upgrading from the lowest fare in exchange for more flexibility to change, cancel, or apply the value to a new reservation.

Conclusion

All signs point to a recovery in the fall, even if it is not quite normal.  It makes sense that there will be a lessening of restrictions, but not complete removal.  A short window of last-minute late summer travel may be in the cards if things keep improving at an increasing rate. The UK leads the G7 with advanced protocols for international travel.

Booking now takes three times as long as it used to.  The terms and conditions, cancellation and change fees, insurance coverages, and cancellation waivers are more important than ever.  Things can change, and our responsibility more than ever is to guide you until you get home.  Booking with an agent at tripcentral.ca is more valuable than ever.  It’s the right combination of experienced advice and a systems based approach to after-sales service backing up our human touch.