As the world remains in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is much uncertainty. New mutations of the virus have brought more lockdowns and further travel restrictions. In Canada, questions about the ability to travel are still largely unanswered.
Just a month ago, the situation around COVID was a little rosier. At least there was a sense that the world was emerging from the pandemic. Lockdowns were easing, and travel appeared to be opening again, including in Canada. What a difference a month makes as rising infection numbers have plunged the world back into COVID-19’s grip.
While Canada has yet to move into another full lockdown, other countries have done so. For now, Canada is moving full steam ahead with its vaccination program.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says most Canadians will receive the vaccine by September. For some medical experts, this is too slow, while for the battered travel industry it may be too late.
As the country embarks on a massive vaccination program, what is the future of travel in Canada? How large a role will the vaccination program play in traveling and when acquiring travel insurance? And when will Canada lift its travel warnings?
Travel, Insurance, and the Vaccination
Canadians wondering when their next vacation overseas might happen maybe waiting many months yet to find out.
One misconception about traveling during the COVID-10 outbreak is that Canada banned people from traveling abroad. That is not the case. The federal government issued a travel advisory recommending Canadians only travel for essential reasons. That advisory remains in place.
Itis not a ban, but a warning that Canadians who leave the country are doing so at their own risk, and they could face the consequences for doing so. For example, more stringent health-screening requirements at airports, movement restrictions imposed at your travel destination, and a possible inability to return to Canada if the country you’re visiting closes its borders.
You may wonder if travel insurance can serve as a safeguard against those consequences? In recent months, several insurers and airlines began offering travel insurance packages with various coverages for COVID-19. Having travel insurance is considerably better than having none. Still, a travel policy with COVID-19 coverage is not the answer for Canadians keen to take a holiday in another country.
Could a Vaccine Become Mandatory for Travel?
Canada has yet to say if getting a vaccination will become a travel requirement. Indeed, doing so this early into the vaccination program would cut off 99 percent of the population from leaving the country. However, other countries are indicating they may impose a vaccination requirement for travelers to visit.
European Union(EU) officials suggest vaccination is likely to be necessary for travel. That will only happen once vaccinations are available to all citizens in the EU. Whether Canada will follow a similar path remains to be seen, but clearly, there is a possibility to apply the same rules. Airlines are also moving towards making a vaccination a requirement to board their planes; Qantas the most notable example.
Insurance companies selling travel coverage could fall in line if nations worldwide make vaccination a travel requirement. A recent report saw one travel insurance company in Europe confirm insurers will update policies to reflect vaccine requirements if governments first implement those requirements.
Due to Canada’s fledgling vaccination program, the country is not yet discussing potential repercussions on travel. Instead, Ottawa has put a testing rule on Canadians leaving the country in place. This rule requires all people entering Canada to present proof of a negative molecular test within 72 hours before returning.
Even with travel insurance and open borders despite government warnings, it seems travel out of Canada remains a risk too far for non-essential purposes.
Of course, that does not remove the fundamental importance of travel insurance. For Canadians who decide to leave the country for any reason, having proper coverage has never been more important.