Border restrictions ease but Calgary travel agent urges caution

Border restrictions eased slightly Monday for fully vaccinated Canadians coming into the country, but a Calgary travel agent warns travellers to hold off planning or booking holidays anytime soon.

As of Monday, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who are fully immunized against COVID-19 no longer have to quarantine for 14 days.

The changes also mean eligible travellers coming into Canada by air no longer need to stay at a government-approved hotel to await test results, but do still need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a flight to Canada that’s less than three days old.

Instead, travellers will use the ArriveCAN app or website prior to departure to prove they’ve been vaccinated, take a PCR test upon arrival and wait results in self-isolation at home.

However, Calgary travel agent Sarah Halprin says travellers should think twice before hoping on a plane because travel restrictions still remain in place between Canada and the United States, which prohibit all discretionary travel between the two countries.

“Technically the restrictions have eased in regards to quarantine but there is still a Level 3 restriction for non essential travel, meaning the government says if it’s not essential you don’t travel,” she said.

The current border restrictions between Canada and the U.S. in particular are due to expire July 21 but it’s unclear if they’ll be extended again.

“I think people are seeing online they can book flights and vacation but they’re unclear of the rules because the rules are unclear,” said Halprin.

"Technically you can book but the problem is the disclaimers with the airlines, the hotels in basically saying because there is a pandemic they can cancel, change anything that you have booked, for any reason that they see fit and that you will not get the services that you have paid for."

Halprin says the changes are moving in a positive direction for those who are eligible, including foreign nationals, and students.

“I know we’ve had an awful 15 months or more of sitting in our houses and waiting but the risk is still too high, until we get clear defined rules by the government and guidelines I think it’s safer to wait.”

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) says anyone who arrived before July 5 is still required to quarantine for 14 days.

ARE CANADIANS READY TO TRAVEL ABROAD AGAIN?

Despite the eased restrictions around travel, it appears Canadians are hesitant to book a vacation right away.

According to a Leger survey conducted on behalf of RATESDOTCA and BNN Bloomberg, 38 per cent of Canadians plan on travelling as soon as the rules allow (25 per cent) or as soon as they are fully vaccinated (13 per cent). 

According to the survey, of those who plan on traveling, 52 per cent will invest in travel insurance internationally.

Jameson Berkow, the managing editor at RATESDOTCA encourages Canadians to book travel insurance given what he calls gaps in provincial and territorial travel health coverage.

“It’s really important in this post-COVID travel environment and I hesitate to even say post-COVID, but the recovery period that we seem to be slowly but surely entering you would think caution is really really warranted,” he said. “Especially when you look at health coverage and not trip cancellation and not that other stuff it’s maybe like $20 bucks or for a whole family is maybe $50 bucks for a typically week trip out of the country.”

The online survey was completed May 14-16 and queried 1,516 Canadians. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample. For comparative purposes, a probability sample of 1,514 respondents would have a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.