Covid-19 and Canada's borders

Covid-19 and Canada's borders

There is still a great deal of confusion to this day as to whether we can travel outside of Canada. The restriction originally put in place by the Canadian government on March 21 to avoid discretionary travel, deemed non-essential at the Canada-U.S. border was extended to September 21, 2020. To date, there is no indication of a reopening on that date either or when this measure will be abolished. What exactly is this discretionary travel measure and what does it mean?

A discretionary trip is defined by the Government of Canada's website as a trip for the following reasons:

  • Leisure
  • Tourism
  • Entertainment

So, what is a non-discretionary trip? It is a journey that has a specific purpose, for example:

  • Work or study
  • Supporting critical infrastructure
  • Health, immediate medical care, safety, and security

It seems that this standard is only applied at the land border. So, what about travelling by air?

Here is what the Montreal airport site said on March 18: The Government of Canada announced the temporary closure of the Canada-U.S. border for all non-essential travel. For flights from Canada to the United States, there are no restrictions for Canadian citizens except for those who have travelled within 14 days of travelling to the United States in China, Iran, and certain European countries (Schengen Area).

However, Canadian citizens travelling to the United States will be required to meet quarantine requirements and be in isolation upon their return to Canada, even if they do not have symptoms. The Government of Canada reminds us to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country. It was noted that all international passenger flights were redirected to one of the next four airports, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.

So, yes, as surprising as this may seem, even if the land border remains closed between the two countries, the option of flying to the United States or even other countries remains available. This option to travel by air is not only interesting but seems to be increasingly used by many Canadian travellers who wish to travel to Uncle Sam's country. Airlines are gradually resuming their flights to various destinations and several specials to interesting destinations will appear in the coming weeks, so be on the lookout. It is also reassuring to know that more and more insurers are now covering COVID-19 while you are abroad. While the situation seems paradoxical with a government-in-office opinion to avoid non-essential travel with a closed border, it is now clear that air travel is the solution to circumvent the restrictions in question for travel between the United States and Canada.

Rest assured, you can also travel within Canada without problems, either by air or by car, except in the Atlantic provinces, where you are required to complete a self-report form that will require you to quarantine yourself. It is also important to protect yourself with good travel insurance even if you are travelling within Canada. Some medical expenses may not be covered by your provincial health care plan if you are out of your province, such as ambulance, repatriation, vehicle return, home, etc.