This year has started with a number of politicians of all stripes across the country landing in hot water for ignoring travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic. In fact, many Canadians aren’t blameless either.
Statistics Canada figures show there has been a significant drop in travel between Canada and the rest of the world since COVID-19 hit, but hundreds of thousands of travelers still flock in and out. outside the country every month since April of last year.
In October – which is the last month for which data is available from Statistics Canada – there was a total of 1,039,232 international travelers who entered or returned to Canada. These would include Canadian citizens and permanent residents returning from travel, as well as foreign and resident crew members, visitors or tourists, diplomats, military personnel, immigrants and former residents.
The data does not distinguish between essential and non-essential travel. The federal government has advised against non-essential travel outside of Canada throughout the duration of the pandemic.
Travel to Canada was at its lowest at the start of the pandemic, with just 614,019 international travelers in April, up from 4,599,473 trips in March, according to available data. By June, the number had grown to over 850,000 and by August to over one million.
Overall, Statistics Canada says the existing travel advisory on non-essential travel and the mandatory 14-day quarantine period has had an impact in reducing travel within and outside the country. In October, arrivals to Canada from the United States and other countries combined were down 94.2% from October 2019.
Canadian residents made 269,000 round-trip trips from the United States in October, down 92.3% from October 2019. The majority of them (225,000) were made by car, and 196,900 of these were same day trips.
The trend is similar for travelers from US residents of the United States made 112,500 trips to Canada in October, down 93.9% from the same month in 2019. The majority (98,300) took the trips by car , and about three-quarters of those trips (72,900) were same-day returns.
If we look at the other countries that are usually the main sources of travel to Canada, the decline has been just as significant. In October, Canada received only 2,200 people from China, up from 58,900 in October 2019. There were 4,900 arrivals from India in October, compared to 22,100 in October 2019.
It’s no surprise that many people are still traveling despite the restrictions of the pandemic and rising infection rates, says Nelson Wiseman, professor of political science at the University of Toronto. Aside from the idea that many people are tired of being curled up after such a long time, it’s also almost impossible to shut down virtually everything, he said.
“We live in a globalized world and we are always going to have people crossing borders,” he said, specifically referring to truck drivers carrying fruits and vegetables and other goods.
Wiseman said it made sense that the number of trips fell sharply in the early months of COVID-19, as the news of the pandemic was more alarming than it is now.
As for politicians criticized for flouting travel restriction rules, Wiseman said while still a very small percentage, the outrage of the general population is justified. “This should be some really big news. And I think there are others who have traveled, ”he said.
Wiseman adds, “The problem (is) that I could catch the virus from you when neither of us have traveled, just because you’ve seen someone who has seen someone else who has. traveled and brought it. It is difficult to trace. “