As summer approaches, many Canadians are wondering what the season will be like, with restrictions on socializing, public gatherings and travel casting a shadow over their vacation planning.
Summer travel will certainly be different in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, with international travel unlikely – even to the United States, as the border remains closed to non-essential travel for at least a month. However, the borders of some provinces are open, offering Canadians the chance to explore their own country by driving rather than flying.
There are no travel restrictions from British Columbia. in Ontario, but provincial health officials are asking residents to avoid non-essential travel within and outside their home province.
Although Saskatchewan has not closed its interprovincial border, the government issued an order in April that restricts all non-essential travel to and from communities in the north of the province.
Manitoba has also established information checkpoints at provincial border crossings – four from Saskatchewan and one from Ontario – set up to advise travelers of the risks of COVID-19.
Roadblocks were installed at the start of the pandemic across Quebec as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. The province began removing them in early May, including at the Ottawa-Gatineau border checkpoint, but health officials say spurious movements between regions are still not recommended.
Travel rules in Atlantic Canada are much more stringent.
Newfoundland and Labrador amended the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act on May 4 to implement a travel ban prohibiting anyone, except permanent residents and workers in essential industries, from entering in the province. The bill empowers the police to potentially remove persons who are not principal residents of the province. However, a lawsuit has been filed by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) to challenge the law.
In New Brunswick, peace officers are stationed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at each of the province’s seven interprovincial land entry points to maintain the province’s state of emergency, prohibiting all non-essential travel, including tourism and social visits. Nova Scotia has also set up checkpoints at all major points of entry into the province, with anyone entering being arrested and interrogated. Prince Edward Island remains closed to non-residents until June.
All three territories have active public health orders prohibiting non-essential travel from the rest of Canada, except returning residents, essential workers and persons exercising treaty rights. Nunavut requires that all travelers – even returning residents or critical workers – be isolated for 14 days at designated centers in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife before traveling to the territory.
Although the Yukon is closed to visitors, residents are allowed to travel across the territory to other communities.
CAMPING, CHALETS AND RENTALS
As the provinces begin to relax COVID-19 restrictions, the reopening of campgrounds may offer some summer vacations. Although camping in national parks is only allowed until June 21, most provinces have opened or will soon open camping facilities.
In British Columbia and Alberta, camping in some parks and other campsites will open in June if transmission of the virus remains low. Campsites are currently open in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. Camping is not yet authorized in Quebec.
In Ontario, seasonal campers are allowed to access their RVs and trailers and stay overnight on campgrounds, but only if the trailer or motorhome is connected to electricity and water services. Campsites in provincial parks remain prohibited.
According to the Canadian Camping Association, Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia are among the provinces that have already canceled summer camps for children this year, but the prospects for day in some parts of the country are still uncertain.
For those who are not interested in camping, chalets and other short term rentals may be an option.
In Canada, renting a property this summer depends on the province you want to visit. In addition, AirBnb has updated its policies, banning all units that allow a party to take place during the pandemic and removing all lists that try to exploit the situation by marketing itself as a “refuge.”
Short-term rentals are currently prohibited in Quebec and Ontario to discourage travel during a pandemic, but seasonal owners can stay in their chalets. Health officials are asking seasonal owners to use caution when visiting, as those who live year-round in seasonal hotspots are concerned that an influx of visitors may increase the spread of COVID-19. Health officials in these provinces recommend staying away from recreational properties if it is not necessary.
In Prince Edward Island, Canadian seasonal residents are allowed to apply for travel on the island as of June 1. They must submit relevant travel and property documents and self-isolation plans before traveling to the province. Seasonal residents of the United States and visitors to other provinces are not allowed.
For Canadians who cross interprovincial borders by car, they may be stopped at a checkpoint and asked to provide documentation on the ownership of the chalet. If you are unable to produce it, you may have to go back.