Canada’s announcement that fully vaccinated Canadian travelers can skip quarantine upon return has inspired some people to start making travel plans.
But before you pack your bags, note that the pandemic isn’t over yet – and there are still travel rules in place that may affect your trip.
“Travel is not quite like pre-COVID, and that is just a reality going forward for the foreseeable future,” said Claire Newell, owner of Travel Best Bets, a travel agency based in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Here’s what you need to know before you book your long-awaited vacation.
COVID tests and vaccination requirements
Although Canadian travelers are vaccinated She is now exempt from quarantine, they Still wanted To provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result before returning to Canada and a second test must be taken upon arrival.
The cost of the access test is covered by the federal government. However, travelers must arrange and pay a pre-arrival test fee, which may cost hundreds of dollars, depending on the country they are leaving in.
Some vacation destinations, such as United States of AmericaAnd the Jamaica And the Saint LuciaTravelers are also required to provide evidence of a negative test upon entry – including those who have been vaccinated. So Canadians going to these destinations must also pay to get a test before leaving, which can cost Over $100.
“It’s expensive for the current types of pre-flight testing, which is at the passenger’s expense,” Newell said.
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Some sunny destinations, like Mexico and the Dominican RepublicIt has no testing requirements for Canadian travelers, and some European countries are now waiving the requirement for fully vaccinated Canadians.
on July 1The Council of the European Union recommended that member states lift travel restrictions on Canadian travelers.
Currently, many European countries, including GreeceAnd the France And the ItalyCanadians are welcome and allowed to skip the required COVID-19 test and any quarantine requirements – if they show proof of vaccination.
So how do Canadians provide evidence?
Diodora Bokor, a spokesperson for the EU mission in Canada, said the EU is working on a “COVID certification regulation,” which will include standard rules for travelers from outside the region.
Until then, member states must be able to accept [foreign]-country [vaccine] Testimonials,” Bokor said in an email.
Travelers should carefully check all entry requirements to their desired destination before booking their ticket, including the types of COVID-19 vaccines accepted by the country.
Newell recommends checking this range Destination Tracker – Created by the World Tourism Organization and the International Air Transport Association – which sets the rules for travel around the world.
What about domestic travel?
However, Newell does not advise Canadians to travel abroad yet. This is because Consultative Federal Government Against nonessential travel abroad still applies – even with relaxed quarantine rules for those who have been vaccinated.
“The government is still advising us not to travel,” Newell said.
For now, Newell recommends Canadians focus on local destinations. She said some airlines are currently offering cheap seats on domestic flights to lure Canadians back into air travel.
“People often get over their fear of traveling when there’s a bargain so cheap.”
Manitoba Atlantic counties are still requiring some visitors to quarantine, but they are excluding vaccinated travelers. The exception is Prince Edward Island, which will begin exempting vaccinated travelers in July 18.
What about travel insurance?
Many insurance companies Bring back medical coverage For illnesses associated with COVID-19 while traveling abroad.
But Martin Firestone, a Toronto-based travel insurance broker, said it’s currently impossible to get COVID-19-related cancellation coverage — because COVID-19 is now a known issue.
“What worries me the most is that we should have another [COVID-19] Wave… there will be no coverage from a cancellation perspective, if the only cause is COVID,” Firestone said.
However, he said, a major insurer has signaled to him that they will reinstate COVID-19-related cancellation coverage once Canada lifts its travel guidelines, and that other providers could follow suit.
Firestone said Canadians who book cruises also won’t be able to get medical coverage for COVID-19 at this time, because the government is currently advising Canadians Avoid all cruise ship trips abroad.
“If you get COVID on that cruise ship, you screw up,” he said.
New flight rules
Air Canada also says that until further notice, customers can cancel their reservations and convert the full value into a travel voucher that never expires.
Furthermore, the airline says that if it cancels a flight for any reason and is unable to rebook a passenger on another flight that departs within three hours of the original departure time, customers can request a refund.
Last year, Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing angered customers when they refused to offer refunds for flights canceled during the pandemic. The airlines have since changed their tunes and started cashing out refunds to affected customers.
Air travelers may not have to worry about fighting for a refund once the proposed Canadian Transport Agency (CTA) regulations go into effect.
The Suggested rules Require airlines to provide refunds to passengers if they cancel a flight for reasons beyond their control – such as a pandemic – and they cannot guarantee that passengers complete their itinerary within a reasonable time
Currently, Canada’s Air Passenger Protection regulations only require airlines to provide refunds for canceled flights for reasons within their control.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that these minimum commitments are insufficient,” the CTA said. in the current situation. “Amid the subsequent collapse of global air travel, most passengers could not be rebooked and thousands were left out of their pocket for the cost of tickets they were unable to use.”
The CTA said it plans to finalize stricter redemption regulations by the fall.