From the “just when you thought it might be time to think about getting back in the water” department. Because of new Covid variants, delays in vaccines, challenges with getting people vaccinated, and continued strains on already stressed health care systems, governments are imposing additional restrictions on travel as part of a more aggressive approach to stopping the pandemic.
On January 29, 2021, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new travel restrictions including an agreement with airlines to suspend travel to the Caribbean and Mexico. Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, and Air Transat are suspending service to those destinations starting January 31, until at least April 30, 2021, and are organizing return travel for those currently abroad.
In the coming weeks, Canada will also mandate new testing and quarantine periods upon arrival in Canada. In addition to the pre-departure Covid test Canada already requires, the government will require PCR testing at the airport for people returning to Canada.
Travelers will then have to wait for for their test results for up to three days at an approved hotel, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2,000 for a three-day stay. The steep price is due to costs of a private PCR test, security, food and measures the designated hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe.
Even after testing negative on arrival, travelers will quarantine at home for an additional period under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement. Security contractors will go door-to-door to check on returnees who are isolating at home.
Starting next week, all international passenger flights to Canada will be allowed to only land at Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary or Montreal.
Canada is also tightening its land borders with the U.S. for non-essential travelers.
Ever-changing travel restrictions are a big impediment to international travel. Even if you are comfortable with the requirements for entry when you depart, there is no guarantee that those conditions will not have become more restrictive or even infeasible when you would like to come home.