Complete COVID-19 FAQ Guide

COVID-19 and Canada: The Complete FAQ Guide to Travel in Canada in 2020

Last updated: June 25, 2020

82 percent of people have changed their travel plans for the next six months due to COVID-19, according to research by Longwoods International. While the travel sector has taken a big hit due to COVID-19, all is not lost. 

As many as 72 percent of Americans are already making plans for their next vacation, and a surprising 35 percent would consider a vacation as early as summer 2020. 

When it comes to travel after COVID-19, then, there’s a lot to look forward to. However, given that international travel likely won’t return this summer season, many Americans and Canadians alike are booking up domestic vacations. 

As a consequence, tour operators are busy organising personalised itineraries for travellers, and experiences are booking up, fast.

Of course, with so much still up in the air, it can be tricky to understand what travel this summer is going to look like.

In this article, we answer some common coronavirus-related travel questions and provide you with the latest information about how each province is responding to COVID-19, and what that means for travel.

 
What are the official travel advisories from the Government of Canada?

According to the Government of Canada’s website, all Canadians are to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada and avoid all cruise ship travel until further notice.

The government advises that, regardless of when you’re travelling, you should check their Travel Advice and Advisories page for your destination twice: once when you are planning your trip, and again shortly before you leave.

 
When will the Canada-U.S. border open for non-essential travel?

The Canada-U.S. border is expected to remain closed to non-essential travel until July 21, 2020. This is to slow the spread of the coronavirus as cases continue to rise in the United States.

The ban on non-essential travel covers the land border between the two countries, as well as air, sea and rail travel into Canada. 

Commercial traffic and essential workers can continue to cross the border, however. 

If you’re looking to book a trip through Canada from the United States this year, your best bet is to organize this through August and September. Given that the summer season has been cut short, however, demand for travel in Canada at this time is on the rise. In short, book sooner rather than later.

 
Will the Rocky Mountaineer be operating this year?

According to the Rocky Mountaineer website, they intend to resume services after August 30, 2020. However, with limited capacity seating and a shortened summer season, booking on the Rocky Mountaineer this year is challenging. 

For travel on the Rocky Mountaineer, many tour operators are taking bookings for the 2021 season.

To explore Rocky Mountaineer trips in 2021, visit here.

 
What about VIA Rail?

We have been notified that VIA Rail have suspended their remaining departures this summer. 

We are contacting all customers that have a VIA Rail component as part of their trip to provide a range of travel solutions. We will be contacting customers in order of travel date.

VIA Rail are booking for the 2021 season, however. Visit here to explore trips on VIA Rail.

 

Will internal flights through Canada resume?

Yes. 

  • Air Transat is set to resume domestic and some international flights from July 23, 2020. 
  • Air Canada has also announced a new summer schedule, which includes nearly 100 destinations in Canada, the U.S. and worldwide.
  • WestJet is set to bring back 22 previously suspended travel routes in July and increasing their frequency to all the Canadian cities they serve.

 

Will hotels reopen this summer?

Yes. 

  • Fairmont Banff Springs reopened on June 1, 2020, under new safety protocols including limited access to the facility, only one door for visitors to enter and exit through, temperature checks at check-in, and gift baskets in rooms with sanitizers, wipes and masks.
  • Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is due to reopen its doors to all guests and visitors on July 3, 2020.
  • Nimmo Bay is due to reopen July 1, 2020.
  • The Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino is set to reopen after July 6, 2020.

To find out how Fairmont Hotel Group is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, read here.

Many other hotels are set to reopen through June and July across Western Canada as provinces enter into new phases of their reopening strategy (find out more about this below). 

Eastern Canada has been worse affected by COVID-19, and many hotels here will likely reopen through July and August.

 

Can I travel between provinces in Canada this year?

It’s predicted that as COVID-19 cases continue to drop throughout Canada, and as reopening plans in each province continue to enter new phases, non-essential travel between provinces will restart again towards the end of the summer. 

Of course, each province has a different reopening strategy, and travel advisories differ province to province.

 

What are the current travel advisories in place in each province?

Below is a list of travel advisories based on each province’s reopening strategy (this list was last updated on June 17, 2020):

Alberta

Alberta entered into Stage 2 of its relaunch strategy on June 12th 2020 (read about Alberta’s relaunch strategy here). For travel specifically, this means that:

  • Provincial campgrounds are back at full capacity.
  • There is no cap on the number of people in restaurants, cafes, lounges and bars.
  • Households can increase their close interactions with other households to a maximum of 15 people. 

In short, this means that: 

  • Major hotels are re-opening including Jasper Park Lodge and Banff Springs. Both Fairmont properties have received recognition from the CDC for their health and safety accreditation ALLSAFE.
  • Many small, private lodges have reopened for the season and are taking small group bookings.

Those looking to take a trip with families and friends can do so during stage 2, assuming travel remains within the province.  

The confirmation date for stage 3 of Alberta’s relaunch strategy is still to be confirmed.

British Columbia

British Columbians are encouraged to stay in their own communities and avoid non-essential travel outside of the province at this time. B.C. is in phase 3 of its Restart Plan, which began on June 25, 2020.

Under phase 3, People can take part in smart, safe and respectful travel within B.C. 

International travellers returning to B.C. are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days and complete a self-isolation plan.

Parks and overnight camping grounds are also undergoing broader re-opening measures, including: 

  • Whistle Blackcomb is due to reopen June 29, 2020 (for trip ideas, visit here).
  • Vancouver Island tourist destinations like Tofino are reopening through June and July 2020.

For those looking to take a trip through BC, then, it might be worth booking something before spaces are filled.

Manitoba

According to the latest information, Manitobans are strongly advised to cancel or postpone any non-essential travel. This includes limiting travel, even within Manitoba, to essential trips only. Travel outside of Manitoba is also strongly advised against.

The government has initiated province-wide checkpoints to inform travelers about COVID-19 and to ensure that vulnerable communities across Manitoba remain safe at this time. Any travelers entering into the province are still required to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.

Given the high demand of travel in Manitoba, people are now booking trips for the 2021 season, and demand is rising. If you’re wanting to experience the spectacle of polar bears along the tundra in Hudson Bay, it might be took to get booking.

New Brunswick

According to New Brunswick’s recovery plan, the province has been separated into seven zones. Each zone is entering into a different phase of reopening based on COVID-19 cases. 

Currently, all but one zone is in the yellow category. For the travel sector, this means: 

  • Overnight campgrounds reopen from June 19.
  • Recreational facilities are subject to open under new safety guidelines.
  • Canadian residents who own a property in New Brunswick and will visit are required to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Canadian residents returning to immediate family members will self-isolate for 14 days.

Travel in New Brunswick is still heavily restricted. According to the Government of New Brunswick website, you must avoid all non-essential travel outside of New Brunswick (and Canada). 

Newfoundland & Labrador

Travellers arriving to Newfoundland and Labrador from outside the province are currently required to self-isolate for 14 days, including those arriving from other provinces and territories in Canada.

All other individuals are currently prohibited from entering Newfoundland and Labrador.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador defers to the Government of Canada for further travel restrictions.

If you have a trip planned in Newfoundland and Labrador in the near future, this will be rescheduled. If you’re wanting to book a trip through this area in 2021 and explore Atlantic Canada by train, however, spaces are filling fast.

Northwest Territories

According the Government of Northwest Territories website: 

“Those who do not have an exemption under the public health order, or have not been granted one for exceptional circumstances, are not allowed to travel within the Northwest Territories.”

For travellers arriving in the NWT, they must mandatorily self-isolate and for 14 days in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River or Fort Smith only. 

NWT residents cannot self-isolate in a small community or other regional centre other than the four listed communities if they have returned from outside the NWT.

If you’re looking to experience the sublime lights of the Aurora Borealis, you should consider booking up a space for 2021 as soon as you can.

Nova Scotia

The Province of Nova Scotia, under the authority of the Health Protection Act, is requiring anyone who has travelled outside Nova Scotia to self-isolate for 14 days from the day they get back to the province, even if they do not have symptoms.

According to the government website, however, there are many outdoor activities that remain open and accessible for Nova Scotians, including:

  • campgrounds
  • community gardens and garden centres
  • driving ranges or golf courses
  • hiking and ATV trails
  • provincial and municipal beaches to walk and enjoy activities like paddling, surfing or kayaking
  • provincial and municipal parks
  • sailing and boating
  • sportfishing

All non-essential travel is currently prohibited in the province of Nova Scotia. 

But non-essential travel is expected to return to normal by the end of the summer season. If you’re looking to book a trip along Canada’s east coast, visit here.

Nunavut

According to the Government of Nunavut’s website, criteria guiding their reopening plan is reassessed every two weeks (this can be found here). 

When considering an ease in border restrictions, their website states that:

“With no vaccine and no treatment for COVID-19 the border restrictions continue to be our first line of defence from bringing COVID-19 into the territory. Easing the border controls will be one of our last considerations and having them in place will provide the confidence to loosen more restrictions in territory.”

For now, all non-essential travel in and out of Nunavut is advised against. 

Like much of Eastern Canada, a return to normal is slow and steady, and many people are re-booking trips through this part of the country for 2021. Consequently, spaces for next year are filling fast. 

To explore our range of trips in Nunavut, including our arctic wilderness safaris, visit here.

Ontario

Under stage 2 of Ontario’s reopening plan (which began on June 12, 2020), indoor and outdoor tour and guide services will be allowed to resume.

This includes:

  • resource-based tours (for example, hunting, fishing and similar excursions).
  • tastings and tours for operators of on-site retail stores at manufacturing sites (for example, wineries, breweries and distilleries).
  • trail riding, walking and bike tours.
  • motor vehicle and boat tours (for example, for sightseeing).

Those travelling in Ontario in stage 2 must adhere to physical distancing measures and limits to public gatherings, however.

Prince Edward Island

PEI is in phase 3 of their reopening plan as of June 1, 2020. According to their website, accommodations in this area can re-open for PEI residents only. This include:

  • campgrounds
  • hospitality homes
  • inns
  • bed and breakfasts

Travel restrictions are easing, and there are considerations in place to lift self-isolation requirements for those entering PEI from select provinces. For travel in summer 2020, PEI will likely remain closed. To explore vacation options for the 2021 season, however, visit here.

Quebec

The Government of Québec is gradually reopening its regions. As of right now, access is allowed to all regions of Québec, with the exception of the following territories:

  • The Cree Territory of James Bay
  • Nunavik

For those who wish to leave their home in Québec and depart on vacation from one region to another, they can now do so, but they must comply with these instructions to ensure safety at all times.

For travellers outside the province, the province will remain closed for most of the 2020 season. Trips like our Eastern Canada Train Tour is booking fast in 2021, however, so if you’re looking to explore this region, it might be worth booking sooner rather than later.

Saskatchewan

Across the province of Saskatchewan, travel restrictions vary depending on the number of cases present. Much like the province of Québec, non-essential travel within the province of Saskatchewan is now allows, but these guidelines and restrictions are to be adhered to.

Travel restrictions in Northwest Saskatchewan are stricter than other areas in the province due to a higher number of COVID-19 cases.

At this time, it is not mandatory that you self-isolate for 14 days upon your return from an out of province trip. However, people who enter or re-enter Saskatchewan should self-monitor for 14 days and self-isolate at the first sign of even mild symptoms.

Yukon

The province of Yukon has been in phase 1 of their reopening strategy, which is expected to last until the end of June.

From July 1, 2020, the province is expected to enter into phase 2. For travellers entering into Yukon, a mandatory 14-day self-isolation is continued, and there is limited access to Yukon, including restrictions of travel to certain communities. 

Yukon Territories will likely remain closed for most of the 2020 season.

What to expect when planning a vacation this summer

There’s no argument that COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the travel sector, but as Canada continues to see a drop in COVID-19 cases and many provinces begin easing restrictions on travel, the idea of ‘going on vacation’ is looking more like a possibility.

By August, it’s likely that most Canadians will be able to travel throughout much of the country unrestricted. Road trips and domestic air travel can be expected to return to a near-normal service. 

As Canadians, we count ourselves extremely lucky. We’re lucky that we live in a country with such a vast landscape to see, a country filled with an abundance of rivers and mountains and valleys and plains. While international travel might not resume this summer season, there’s enough exploration and adventure to experience in our country alone. All you need to do if book the right trip.

To find out how our destination specialists at Fresh Tracks Canada (the home of Canadian Train Vacations and The True North Collection) can help you plan your trip this summer season, schedule a call with us now

We’d be more than happy to clarify and COVID-19 travel questions you may have, too.

Learn more

To find out how our destination specialists can help you plan your trip this summer season, schedule a call with us now.

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