“The list of where you can travel keeps growing every day,” says agent Claire Newell
David Carrigg • May 16, 2021
If you want, this week you can jump on a plane leaving Vancouver International Airport and fly to France, Greece, Ireland, Thailand, Israel, Barbados, Belize, Croatia, Iceland, Malta, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Tahiti, Poland, Estonia,Guatemala, Montenegro, Seychelles or Slovenia.
But if you want to drive from Vancouver to Kelowna, Prince George, Castlegar or Creston, don’t even think about it.
That’s the juxtaposition British Columbians face as international COVID-19 travel restrictions start to loosen, while strict travel and social bans remain in place around the province.
Travel expert Claire Newell said that since May 6 at least 10 countries have opened their doors to vaccinated Canadians.
“The list of where you can travel keeps growing every day,” she said, as does the number of vaccinated Canadians.
On Monday, the U.K. will open its borders to travellers from “green” countries — including Australia, New Zealand and Israel — that have met vaccination targets. Those travellers will need to prove they are vaccinated and show a recent negative PCR test result, but are otherwise free to roam upon arrival.
At the moment, Canada and the U.S. are on the U.K.’s “amber” list — meaning people from those countries can come to Britain, but they must quarantine for 10-days and prove they are COVID negative once they have arrived.
Newell said the European Union is also close to opening all its member states, with American tourists likely to be able to tour Europe this summer.
“The 27 EU countries have agreed in principal to allow vaccinated tourists from countries with high vaccination rates,” she said. “The U.S. and Britain are already on those lists.”
She said the EU was also close to having a vaccine passport that could be downloaded on a smart phone and used to prove vaccination.
RCMP opened checkpoints on four highways two weeks ago in B.C. as part of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s plan to stop the spread of COVID-19 from Metro Vancouver to the rest of the province. The ban on non-essential travel between three zones (based on health authority boundaries) is set to end following the Victoria Day long weekend (May 25) but could be extended.
Under the Emergency Plan Act, the RCMP is authorized to enforce any provincial health officer order, including this one that comes with a $575 fine for refusing to turn around if not on essential business.
Newell said that anyone returning to Canada by air from overseas must still quarantine in a hotel for three days while they wait for a test result taken when they arrived. They must also self-isolate for 10 days after getting out of the quarantine hotel. In order to get on the plane, they must have shown a PCR test taken within the past two days.
She said Canadian airlines were hopeful Canada would follow the U.K. model of reopening to travel, based on metrics like vaccination and infection rates.
According to the Canada COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker website, 45 per cent of Canadian have received at least one dose (17 million people) and 1.4 million are fully vaccinated with two doses.
Newell recommended the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s destination tracker to monitor which countries are permitting tourism and how.