New Year, New Protocols

I know I’m a little late at this but Happy 2021! Can you believe we are already into our 3rd week of this new year and it already feels like 3 months?! For those of us in North America, with the New Year came new protocols in regards to Covid and Negative Testing. Have you heard about this yet? If you haven’t you may be living under a rock.

In Canada, our government decided on December 30th to give us all one last taste of 2020 with news that a new protocol – Starting January 7, 2021, all air travellers 5 years of age or older flying into Canada are now required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding international flights bound for Canada. See new requirements for air travellers. This is in addition to the need for everyone entering Canada to follow the mandatory isolation or quarantine requirements. Not respecting the mandatory requirements is a serious offence and passengers could face consequences and penalties. PLUS… those entering Canada MUST use the ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel information on and after your entry into Canada.

For those in the United States, the CDC reports a variety of countries that are not allowed into the US at all, but for those returning from other countries, those entering the USA government now requires all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. You can find more information on this testing requirement, at this link for Frequently Asked Questions.

Canadians have been urged highly by the government to AVOID ALL NON-ESSENTIAL Travel since the beginning of the pandemic, but especially after a few officials in government and the medical community were found taking vacations outside of Canada over the holidays, it appears that they are clamping down on this “Advisory” by implementing this new requirement and in our province in particular, tightening down our movements with a new lockdown/stay at home order. Part of the government’s reiteration of the Level 3 advisory, politicians have gone so far as to tell Canadians that they (the government) are not responsible for repatriating people home to Canada anymore should the borders in destination change or flight schedules change or cease, and if travellers are found without test results within 72 hours they have been denied boarding for their return flight, or worse for some, they find themselves with positive test results and are stuck in location until they can test negative and the costs associated with this (new flights, accommodations, medical care), are at the travellers’ own risk and cost.

As a travel advisor, my advice to clients has been to consider the risks of travelling right now. For many, like myself, we are chomping at the bit to escape to the Caribbean for a piece of heavenly relief from winter and lockdown, but wisdom tells me that the risks and costs of testing and getting stuck in destination, at this time, outweigh the need for non-essential travel. But, that being said, I cannot make the decisions for clients. I can only advise and truly the decision to travel is up to each individual as everyone has their own feelings and risk comfort level.

For those who really want to travel, here are a few things to consider:

Prior to Departure: Where are you wanting to travel? What are the protocols/requirements for this destination? Do you need to have a negative Covid test result prior to boarding your plane from Canada to destination? How many days in advance do you need that test? (Costs can vary but from what I understand, these tests at Shoppers Drug Mart $199 + hst or $225 CAD per person). What happens to your vacation if you receive a positive test result? Does your travel insurance cover the last minute cancellation for this purpose?

In Destination: What happens if you have to test in destination and receive a positive Covid test? Can you afford to quarantine in a foreign country? Does your travel insurance cover this? What about if you receive a positive Covid test before returning to Canada, or your test results don’t get back in time to board your flight with a negative resort? Can you afford to stay an extra few days to week until the next flight? What if that flight you don’t get your test results back or can’t find testing? Pre-departure testing in the Caribbean have a variety of pricing with the highest I’ve heard so far is up to $350 USD per person. Some destinations are working feverishly to make testing available on site at the resort, (and some complimentary at least for awhile), but are you prepared for the extra costs and disruption should you need to make your way to a health care facility in destination?

Return to Canada: Are you able to live by the mandatory quarantine or face fines/prosecution? Can you afford to stay home from work for the full 14 days? Toronto Pearson Airport has just begun a pilot project of rapid testing upon return to Canada (in addition but not instead of the 72 hour requirement for negative test done in destination), but this rapid testing does NOT shorten the 14 day mandatory quarantine in Ontario. Calgary’s airport program is similar but different in that theirs shortens quarantine depending on your negative test results from the rapid testing program in Calgary (again, in addition to the destination test).

There are so many questions right now as we are still in the middle of this pandemic. Here in Ontario, Canada our government is telling us to STAY HOME and if the majority of us can do our part to get this virus under control and vaccines out there en mass, then hopefully in a few months we can see some of these restrictions be loosened and we can get back to travel by summer or at least the end of 2021.

I know that my opinion may not be that of everyone. This post is my opinion and advice for my clients. You may think differently and I respect that. None of us truly know 100% what the facts are anymore where this virus is concerned. Believe me, I feel your frustration and wish I could hop on a plane tomorrow. This is the longest I’ve ever stayed home in probably 20+ years. But for now… these are some of the hurdles we need to jump over before we can safely travel more carefree and more risk-free. But be encouraged… we WILL travel again!!

Let me leave you today with a YouTube video from a fellow travel agent (and Breakfast Television travel contributor) who has made this amusing video that pretty much explains in an eggshell how confusing all these protocols and lockdowns are for us who are ready to take off for sunnier skies. Watch and have a little giggle!

Until next time,

~ Sue ~ 

Your Vacation Dream Maker

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