Safe travels in the time of COVID-19Virtual care · Aug 20, 2021
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘travel’? Does it evoke memories of vacation, meeting new people, exploring new places? Travel of any kind can do wonders for your mental health: it stimulates your creativity, helps increase empathy and tests your emotional agility. Even just the act of planning for travel can bring purpose and happiness. But before you get too wrapped up in the idea of rushing out to seek new horizons and explore our country’s beauty, keep in mind that the pandemic has likely changed travel for the foreseeable future, and employing good travel hygiene habits will remain more important than ever.
Before you travel
Amidst Canada’s vaccine rollout, you can plan your next adventure on Canadian soil; there are countless opportunities to explore Canada’s beauty from coast to coast, especially in outdoor and nature settings.
According to the Centre for Disease Control, vaccination is an effective way to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 infection. Remember that in order to build proper immunity against infection and to be considered fully vaccinated, you must wait at least 2 weeks after you have received your 2nd dose in a 2-dose series (Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca) or after your single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). The safest way to travel is after being fully vaccinated, as well as upholding other layers of safety such as masking, physical distancing, and being outdoors.
Consult your destination’s travel restrictions prior to departure and make sure you travel with the necessary documents, such as proof of vaccination or a recently obtained negative COVID-19 test. If you’re considering reuniting with loved ones or venturing outside of Canada, always research the local status of COVID-19 and vaccine campaigns, as well as any relevant public health measures, to help you make an informed decision.
If you are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated and must travel, complete a COVID-19 test prior to leaving on your trip and have the results of your test on hand while travelling. The Canadian government is still warning against leisure travel if you are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.
Most importantly, make sure that you are well enough to travel. Travellers with existing health conditions or chronic illness should practice vigilance and consider consulting their health professional prior to departure. Have a safety plan in place that includes a concrete set of steps you would take if you or your loved ones are exposed to COVID-19 or get sick while you are away from home.
Whether you are travelling by air, land or waterway, please follow the guidelines issued by your local health authorities and cabin crew. These guidelines are likely available on their website or even on your ticket confirmation.
Generally speaking, guidelines will be to wear a mask that covers both your nose and mouth. You can see Canada’s recommendations around types of masks here, or use a medical mask such as a surgical mask. Beyond masking, maintain physical distance from other travellers and wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. You will also be asked to remain in your assigned seat, when applicable.
Remember that your face mask may not be as effective if it becomes moist, so make sure to carry multiple masks with you on longer trips. For extra protection, you may also consider wearing a face shield or another form of eye protection.
Keep track of the places you visit and the people you are in close contact with during your vacation. This may be vital information in the event of infection.
Upon returning home, follow your provincial health guidelines. They may require you to quarantine in a hotel or get tested and self-isolate. There are now emerging exceptions to quarantine for people who have been fully vaccinated.
Though North America is preparing for a “return to normal”, it is important to remember that the pandemic has not ended and continues to rage in many parts of the world. With potent variants such as Delta now making their way around the globe, we urge you to exercise caution and help reduce spread by following the up-to-date travel recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) and your local governmental health authorities.
In Canada, continue to monitor local guidance from provinces and health regions as our epidemic evolves. Help make this summer restful for all Canadians by doing your research, as well as being careful and respectful of the communities we visit.
Safe travels, everyone!
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