In recent weeks, venues ranging from cinemas to gymnasiums to indoor restaurants have reopened to fully vaccinated people in many provinces. While these reopenings are welcome, for many Canadians it was the trips that were most missed during the pandemic.
And as Canada’s immunization effort progressed from a slow start to global success, and as Canada emerged from the difficult second and third waves of COVID-19, travel has gone from demonized to broken.
At the height of the second wave, in early January 2020, politicians and other public figures were humiliated for taking winter getaways in the sun during the holidays.
Now, with 80% of eligible Canadians having received double doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, travel has become the ultimate incentive.
Trudeau said earlier this week as he thanked Canadians for getting vaccinated: “You deserve the freedom to be COVID-19 safe, to have your children safe from COVID and get back to the things you love. “
He added: “And if you haven’t received your shots yet, but want to travel this winter, let’s be clear, there will only be a few extremely narrow exceptions, such as a valid medical condition. For the vast, vast majority of people, the rules are very simple. To travel, you must be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, the federal government’s advisory against all non-essential travel outside of Canada is still in effect, after nearly 19 months.
Gordon Dreger, founder of the Toronto-based travel community Wheel & Anchor, says enough is enough. He calls on the federal government to make adjustments to the general travel advisory.
The United States, for example, updated its travel advisories during the pandemic to adopt a country-by-country approach in August 2020. Dreger told Travelweek “this is the most logical step to take at this point. There are countries where it is at least as safe as Canada to travel. We should be able to go. “
Adventures Coordinators owner Tom Gehrels, who reached out to Travelweek earlier this month, is another advocate for more targeted reviews. “In a perfect world, the government would change its advice to be more destination-specific and add a warning that traveling without being vaccinated increases the risk of contracting and spreading COVID,” Gehrels told Travelweek.
Dreger says about 10% of Wheel & Anchor customers travel despite the travel advisory. “But most of them stay put. Many are concerned about the implications for insurance, ”he said.
Dreger recently sent a letter to the federal government outlining his concerns and calling for an update to the travel advisory. Here is his letter …
“On behalf of our more than 4,000 traveling members from across Canada, I ask that the international advisories that have been put in place due to the coronavirus be updated and adjusted to reflect the current realities of global travel.
“At this time, it is neither fair nor reasonable that Canadians who have waited more than a year and a half to travel outside the country are limited by the general warning ‘Avoid all non-essential travel Which has exceeded its usefulness for many parts of the world.
“There is no doubt that the health and well-being of Canadians should be foremost in such a decision, but you have to agree that the relative risk of traveling to much of the EU and to a number of other countries in the world with cases and vaccination rates similar to Canada, is no greater than at home.
“In the interest of reviving tourism, an industry that has suffered the most during this period, in a spirit of reciprocity with countries that have opened their doors to Canadians and out of respect for those who simply wish to take a vacation abroad , I ask you to immediately adjust the travel advice to more appropriate levels.