Opinion: The Ridiculousness of Canadian Travel Restrictions
There have been a LOT of things during the pandemic that have not been well-thought out by the provincial and federal government. That’s been abundantly clear. One of these major shortcomings has been restrictions on travel.
The basic principle that the government has maintained is that they don’t want Canadians to travel. The message has been loud and clear: don’t leave the country. At times the message has looked even more like: don’t leave your home.
But although there have been guidelines put in place that make air and land travel far more difficult, travel has not been banned (although Trudeau has hinted at it), and lots of people still have to engage in ‘essential travel’ for work, school, or even to see family/romantic partners.
So let’s take a look at these exceptions and determine what great plan our government has come up with.
At a time where things are starting to open up more in many places across Canada, vaccines are being distributed at faster rates, and many places are finally starting to see a decrease in cases, travel has become even more restricted.
As of February 1st, flights will only land in the country’s 4 largest airports: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.
Since January 7th, airline travelers heading to Canada have had to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours of their flight.
Now this measure may sound good on paper, but timing a test so that you have it before your flight and also during the 72 hour period is easier said than done.
The waiting time for a COVID-19 test is so generic that getting the timing right is very difficult. The test can sometimes be back within a day, other times within a week.
Let’s say you took your test 5 days before your flight. It’s certainly possible that you could receive your test within 24 hours, which would be before the 72 hour period. It’s also just as possible that the test may take 5 days to get back to you. Both options leave you stranded in whatever country you’re travelling to Canada from.
Additionally, when you land in Canada, you must be tested for the virus, and then wait in a government approved hotel for your test results to come back. Oh, and by the way, you’ll be paying out of pocket.
Then, once your results come back, you must quarantine at home for the full 14-day period.
There has been a lot of pushback against the hotel rule, so this may not be coming into effect.
What this whole process looks like is a lot of virtue signaling by the government, a promise that they’re doing everything to stop Canadians from getting sick, although there are many exceptions to every rule they put in place.
One of the easiest ways to work around the hefty air-travel rules, is to opt for land-travel. Many of the rules that apply to air travel don't apply to crossing the border while driving.
Travelers who cross the border on-land will still have to quarantine for 14 days at home, but don’t have to worry about tests, staying in hotels, and the fees associated with these hotels.
Overall, the federal government's strategy to minimize cases isn’t much of a strategy at all, but mostly a bunch of tests thrown together resulting in hefty costs for Canadians, rather than allowing them to fly and then just stay at home.
The government needs to begin to open up the economy at some point, and stacking on more and more restrictions isn’t the way to do so.