Wondering when Canadians can start traveling again? Here’s what you need to know

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For many Canadians, their most exciting adventure in the past two months has been a weekly trip to the grocery store.

But now that the provinces are easing COVID-19 restrictions, some people are considering traveling abroad.

Here’s what you need to know about traveling outside of Canada while COVID-19 still lingers in our lives.

Can I travel now?

Yes, but with many conditions to consider.

On March 13, the federal government issued a notice against all non-essential international travel, to help stop the spread of the new COVID-19 coronavirus. The notice remains in effect until further notice.

The ancient Acropolis hill in Athens is a popular destination for tourists. Greece plans to reopen its border in July. (Milos Bicanski / Getty Images)

Despite the advice, Canadians can still travel abroad. However, travelers may find it difficult to find flights and their travel insurance is unlikely to cover their medical costs if they fall ill with COVID-19. They will also isolate yourself for 14 days at their return.

The Canada-US border remains closed to tourists on both sides of the border until June 21. And that date could be extended if the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States – now totaling more than 1.6 million – remains a concern.

Where can i go?

Due to border closures and fear of flying during the pandemic, airlines have reduced their routes.

WestJet immobilized all cross-border and international routes until June 25. Air Transat and Sunwing ceased to fly together until June 30 and June 25, respectively.

Air Canada is currently flying to about five percent of its capacity. On Friday, the airline announced an updated summer schedule that offers flights to 97 destinations, including Rome, Athens and the Caribbean.

Flight Center spokesperson Allison Wallace said it will take time to restore consumer confidence in Canadians who travel beyond their borders. (CBC)

Once Canada has lifted its advisory against international travel, airlines will begin adding more routes, said Allison Wallace, spokeswoman for the travel agency Flight Center.

But she warns that it could take up to two years for carriers to resume normal operations.

“The airlines are not going to come back 100%,” she said. “There is sort of general agreement that international travel will start to drop to around 20% by the fall – as in September – and then increase from there. “

As for possible travel destinations, Iceland, Mexico and some Caribbean countries such as Aruba and St. LUCIA intends to start welcoming tourists again in June. Greece plans to reopen in July.

But travelers may face stringent entry requirements. For example, Saint Lucia and Iceland will require visitors to undergo a COVID-19 test before flying and provide proof of arrival that they are virus-free. If travelers to Iceland cannot test in advance, the country plans to test them on arrival.

Two boys walk past the empty square of Hallgrimskirkja Church, normally a popular tourist destination in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland, in late April. Iceland plans to reopen to tourists in June. (Photo AP / Egill Bjarnason)

Airline analyst and McGill professor Karl Moore is scheduled to travel to Iceland in August to teach for a few days at Reykjavik University.

But if he can’t get tested in Canada first, Moore isn’t sure he’ll make the trip. Indeed, if he is positive for COVID-19 on his arrival, he will have to pay the bill for a quarantine of 14 days in a hotel in Reykjavik. Travelers with COVID-19 cannot return to Canada until they recover.

“It will cost me thousands of dollars to be quarantined,” said Moore. “I love Reykjavik, but I could end up teaching [instead] on Zoom. ”

What about travel insurance?

Insurance broker Martin Firestone believes that when Canada’s travel advisory is lifted, travel insurance providers may continue to exclude coverage for COVID-19-related illnesses – until there is a vaccine .

“A person who ends up on a fan in the United States, it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, so [insurance providers] are not able to take this risk, “said Firestone, president of Travel Secure in Toronto.

According to him, if travel insurance continues to exclude illnesses related to COVID-19, many Canadians will refuse to travel, including his snowbird customers.

“I fear the entire upcoming snowbird season may be put under ice … until there is a cure or a vaccine. “

CBC News has contacted several major insurance travel providers to find out if they will resume covering COVID-19 issues when Canada issues its travel advisory. They said they could not make a final statement at this time.

What will air travel look like?

In Canada, the federal government has required that all air passengers wear face masks on planes and in airports when social distance is not possible.

Airlines promise long list of safety measures to protect passengers from COVID-19 capture. Air Canada has set up temperature controls, frequent cabin cleanings and says that strangers won’t have to sit side by side in economy class – which means the dreaded center seat will remain empty.

WATCH | Airports and airlines are developing new ways to help passengers feel safer:

Technology could play a big role as airports and airlines are developing new ways to help passengers feel safer. 3:43

Several airlines have pledged not to sell the middle seat on airplanes, as a protective measure. However, this plan may not last.

This month, the International Air Transport Association stated that, while he supports protective measures on airplanes, he opposes the blocking of the middle seat.

The association argues that the risk of virus transmission on board is low and that lower sales of mid-size seats will reduce airline profits – unless the price of tickets goes up.

It is important to note that even if travel restrictions are lifted and airlines add more flights, all vacation plans could quickly fail if we are faced with serious second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.

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