I just returned from a quick break in Prince Edward County. Those of you who are from Ontario or Quebec will know it - idyllic countryside, great restaurants and art galleries, wonderful beaches, a fantastic vibe. It is arguably the best place in Ontario to get away from it all.
On the way home it was a question from my daughter Amaya that took me by surprise.
"Papa", she said (she still calls me papa), "when we get back home, do we have to self-quarantine?"
You wonder where she picks these things up sometimes. So I asked.
"The radio probably" was her reply.
(Note to self - turn the radio off more often)
Her question did make me think though. If she can ask questions like this, are there other people who are confused by all the rules and avalanche of newscasts?
As it turns out there is lots of confusion. Here are the latest rules on travel within and outside of Canada, when a vaccine may be available and what happens when you return from your travels.
Domestic travel - the rules
Domestic travel within Canada is subject to a hodgepodge of provincial rules and regulations. Some provinces have few restrictions, some recommend essential travel only, while others have their borders completely closed. A few have a mandatory quarantine period for out-of-province arrivals but these are being relaxed. This CBC article has a summary of current rules.
International travel - rules & insurance
The Government of Canada advises against all non-essential travel outside of Canada.
There is anecdotal evidence some people have decided against travel because they think they are not allowed to leave Canada. However, our government, while warning against it, is quick to assert that the decision to travel is your choice.
One of the immediate issues is that insurance companies have capitalized on our government's advice by excluding COVID-19 from medical coverage on any newly-purchased travel insurance policies. This means that if you want to travel to Iceland, because its government has lifted restrictions on international travel, you can get medical insurance. It just won't cover you for COVID-19.
With Europe planning to open its borders to international arrivals, the insurance question will be one of the sticking points for Canadians.
How close are we to a COVID-19 vaccine?
While most media are speculating about a timeline of 18-24 months before a corona virus vaccine will be available, according to this Globe & Mail article there is hope a vaccine may be much closer.
In addition, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, in partnership with Oxford University, has set up a global supply capacity to exceed two billion doses before the end of this year.
The author of this article in Scientific American, while warning against telescoping vaccine timelines, also believes it will be possible before the end of this year to protect those most at risk from exposure with combinations of monoclonal antibodies or with truly effective antiviral drugs. .
Current rules state that anyone travelling to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. This is potentially the biggest hurdle for anyone wishing to travel abroad.
Other countries, like Iceland- test people when they arrive in country, instead of mandating self-quarantine. Testing thousands of arrivals may seem like a Herculean task but with international arrivals at Pearson down to an average of 1625 per day in April, it may well be within our capabilities.
The Canadian Travel & Tourism Round Table, an organization comprised of members of the travel and tourism sector, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial premiers, urging them to reopen the provinces, territories, and country to travel.
So, can I travel despite COVID-19?
While following guidelines to maintain your health, will be the order of the day for the foreseeable future, one day soon travel will be the rewarding experience it always has been.
In the meanwhile you should assess the risk of contracting the virus in your destination versus contracting it while staying at home. This website has the latest COVID-19 infection numbers.
You should also ask yourself how comfortable you are not having insurance coverage for COVID-19.
Before booking your vacation you also need to bring yourself up to speed with any restrictions your destination of choice has in place. (We can help).
How about you?
When will you travel again? Drop us a line to let us know.
In this article we have tried to cover all angles but please remember it is intended as a guide only. Please be sure you check all aspects relevant to your trip.