UPDATE: As Flytrippers recommended, the Government of Canada just lifted its advisory against all non-essential travelers 🥳
Yes, the Canadian Government is currently making travel riskier for Canadians. And with so many Canadians fully vaccinated, so many Canadians ready to travel, and so many countries open and willing to welcome us safely and responsibly… it is more than time for a change.
And we need you as travelers to speak up too and share this message to put pressure on the government.
Because even if we are the travel experts, unfortunately, the reality is that public opinion still holds a lot more weight in the decision process than it really should.
Canada’s global travel advisory
Canada needs to remove its global travel advisory to avoid all non-essential travel.
First of all, to be very clear: Travel advisories are just recommendations. So they literally do not (and can not) stop anyone from traveling at all.
That is a fact.
And it’s also a fact that it actually makes travel riskier for the Canadians who are traveling (and there are many):
- They can’t know which countries are the safest because there are no useful advisories to rely on
- The free medical insurance they get from their credit cards is voided and they might not even know
Also, it just makes literally zero sense to encourage all fully vaccinated foreigners to enter Canada for non-essential reasons from any country in the world with no quarantine (since September 7)…
… but at the same time tell fully vaccinated Canadians not to go visit the exact same countries those thousands of tourists are arriving from.
Where’s the science in that?
There isn’t so much as basic common sense in that logic.
And not to mention that even with almost no cases here in Canada… a majority of countries that report data still have even lower infection rates than here (based on the 7-day rolling average of new cases).
Anyway, we’ve traveled internationally extensively ourselves since the beginning of the pandemic: It sure can be done safely, and the government can help make it even safer.
It’s time for common-sense advisories to tell Canadians which countries are the least risky, by providing a nice handy list of risk levels by country to help them stay safe—because they are traveling; whether the government wants it or not.
(And removing the pre-entry PCR test—or at the very least accepting rapid antigen tests that are more convenient and affordable—for vaccinated travelers is more than overdue too.)
At-large advisory defeats the very purpose of advisories
Before travel in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel advisories had a primary objective: Helping Canadians stay safe abroad.
Yes, that’s what advisories are for.
Helping Canadians choose the safest destinations first, and helping Canadians stay safe wherever they go by providing information about the country and the possible risks there.
Yet, instead of helping Canadians choose the safest destinations in literally the riskiest time to travel in recent history, the government just says: “don’t travel” and that’s it.
No help whatsoever.
Simpler; no work required on its part this way. Of course, discouraging travel may seem like a good intention, but intentions are useless in life. The results are what matters. And the fact is Canadians are traveling.
Did you know that current infection rates are lower in Florida than in Alberta? This is information about the risks and the pandemic situation in different countries that would be useful for many Canadians to know (especially the many who are traveling out West now “to stay safer”).
If the government would do its job and at least rank countries in order of risk, the many Canadians who travel could at least choose the least risky countries for COVID-19.
That is what every serious country does with their travel advisories.
The US CDC has a list of the safest countries to travel to during the pandemic, the Government of the United Kingdom has a list, the Government of France too, etc.
In short, our Canadian government undeniably contributes to making travel riskier by not publishing COVID-19 alert levels for other countries. It prefers sticking its head and the sand and pretending Canadians aren’t traveling.
Flytrippers gets hundreds of messages every week about travelers not knowing how to choose the safest destinations… we tell them they can at least rely on the help of the serious countries who are committed to helping their citizens with their advisories.
But that’s a tiny sliver of Canadians who travel: The majority probably choose their destination without any help or information, potentially going to the riskiest countries (when they could’ve easily changed for a safer one if the government would’ve helped them).
Canadians are traveling
And here’s a news flash: Canadians are traveling. Because it is 100% allowed.
And because a vast majority are vaccinated and want to return to their passion of travel, just like everything else that can never be zero-risk (like full-capacity arenas) has reopened and returned almost to normal.
Last week, the number of passengers screened by CATSA in Canadian airports topped 100,000 in a single day for the first time since March 2020. Finally!
Canadians are traveling.
And more and more of them will do it as our horrible Canadian winter arrives and more and more countries open up to Canadians (already 167 are open to Canadians and a whopping 55 are open without even requiring so much as a test to enter).
That is also a fact.
So if Canadians are traveling anyway, why not at least help them choose the safest countries to do so?
Odd comparison (even though the underlying principle is similar), but it is one that might drive the point home since it’s so out there: We make supervised injection facilities available to people who use drugs even if the drugs are not legal… the logic being that they are going to use them regardless, so we might as well help them do it safely.
Health comes first.
Some people will say that travel can be a drug, but it’s really not the same thing. But anyway, unlike drugs, travel IS allowed and has always been allowed.
So why not help travelers travel safely… they’re going to travel regardless, might as well direct them to the countries where the risk is lower, right?
That would keep Canadians who are traveling safer.
It would also help them in terms of travel insurance.
Sure, the best credit cards in Canada offer hundreds of dollars in free travel as welcome bonuses, but they are also useful to be fully covered for medical costs on a trip. Many savvy travelers who have always been covered for free by one (or many) of their cards might not even think of purchasing coverage since they’re so used to that.
The insurance plans that come with credit cards, being free and all, are using the government advisory as a convenient excuse to void coverage (it’s certainly not voided due to the pandemic itself, it’s really the government response to the pandemic again; many travel insurers gladly cover COVID-19 if you pay, and it’s not very expensive since they evaluate the risks as being very low).
And it would keep Canadians here in Canada safer too since their neighbors and colleagues who are travelers will be more likely to return from safer countries. Because fully vaccinated Canadians returning from abroad aren’t required to quarantine at all since July, no matter which country they arrive from (and regardless of how badly the coronavirus situation is there).
The government has implicitly encouraged travel by removing the quarantine upon return… but it continues to spread some confusing mixed messaging.
Completely illogical mixed messaging
Imagine 2 fully vaccinated travelers entering Canada side by side from the exact same city in the US. One is entering to start a trip, the other is entering to return from a trip.
What’s the difference between the 2? Absolutely none except their passports.
Spending 2 weeks in the US before entering Canada is fine if you’re American: The Canadian Government reopened to all fully vaccinated foreigners for non-essential trips in September, but Americans have been allowed in since early August even!
But spending 2 weeks in the US before entering Canada is not recommended if you’re Canadian. It’s not essential.
How is it okay for foreigners to come in from abroad for non-essential reasons but not okay for Canadians to return from abroad for non-essential reasons?
In addition to public opinion and the political points to make, is the fact that foreign tourists bring in big money now a factor in the (supposedly) science-based decisions?
But that’s far from the only contradiction.
For example, Health Minister Patty Hajdu forcefully said on October 10th that all non-essential travel should still be avoided, even within Canada (!!!).
(That doesn’t seem to apply to her boss, as the Prime Minister himself took an extremely non-essential trip all across the country to the beach in Tofino instead of commemorating the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation—yet another contradiction. Not to mention the election in the middle of a pandemic that had leaders and the media crisscrossing the country nonstop.)
But then literally 3 days later, when the US announced they were reopening their land border to Canadians for non-essential reasons, the same government had multiple ministers saying they were delighted about the news.
If you tell Canadians to avoid non-essential travel, how can you be happy that the US border reopens for non-essential travel?
You’re happy that now it will be even easier and cheaper for Canadians to not follow your recommendation?
It just makes zero sense. It’s mind-boggling. And again, these government reactions were 3 days apart. Not 3 months or even 3 weeks. 3 days!
If the government has any credibility to salvage, they have to remove the advisory before November 8. The sooner the better.
While discouraging travel sure made sense in the first months of the pandemic, there just isn’t any scientific reasoning for this to continue.
It’s been 19 months. It’s time to follow the science for real!
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Canada’s blanket global advisory against non-essential travel is actually making travel riskier for the many Canadians who are already traveling, and the many more who plan on traveling this fall and winter. It’s time for it to go.
What do you think about the global travel advisory? Tell us in the comments below.
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This Post Has 2 Comments
I agree with you. I will summarize your statements and email Trudeau and Hajdu, but perhaps you could organize a petition. That would get thousands of signatures in support and perhaps help to restore good sense!
Hi, it’s done now, thankfully. But to get the pre-departure test removed (the next battle haha), we’re going to do an article next week and ideally, we’d like as many people as possible to share it so that travelers can make their voices heard and so that it’s known that we want this to go away (public opinion counts for a lot).