‘It’s just disappointing’: Loosened international travel restrictions leave some Albertans wanting more

EDMONTON — Newly loosened restrictions around international travel may have been welcome news to many Albertans, but as CTV News Edmonton learned on Monday, they also left some things to be desired for some families looking for an out-of-country vacation.

On July 5, fully vaccinated travellers who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or certain foreign nationals will be able to return to the country without the burden of a 14-day quarantine.

New guidance from the Government of Canada, announced on Monday, also allows eligible travellers to avoid taking a COVID-19 test eight days after their return, or isolating in a hotel upon arrival to the country.

TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN

Currently there is no COVID-19 vaccine approved for kids under the age of 12 in Canada, meaning children younger than 12 years old would be subject to a 14-day isolation period upon their return to the country.

Unvaccinated children would not have to stay in a hotel, but would have to follow current COVID-19 testing requirements.

For those reasons, one Sturgeon County man chose to book a September trip to New York City with his wife, but not their kids.

Sean Gilfillan told CTV News Edmonton when he heard the news about Canada’s loosened travel restrictions on Monday morning he immediately went online to book their flights.

“We would have 100 per cent probably booked something like Mexico, California, Disneyland, something like that, if we were confident that we could get the kids over and back without isolating,” said Gilfillan.  

“When’s the government going to address the fact that I can’t take my five and six-year-old across the border and come back without them needing to isolate?” he added.

On Monday, Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu seemed to anticipate the frustration.

“Undoubtedly this will be challenging for families who want to travel,” said Hajdu.

‘I UNDERSTAND THE RESTRICTIONS, IT’S JUST DISAPPOINTING’

Mark Kay and his wife took a different approach from Gilfillan when they booked a flight to California for January.

The St. Albert couple is hoping to include their kids on the trip, and have paid for them to join. They say they’re prepared to cancel if circumstances around post-travel isolation don’t change.

“I understand the restrictions, it’s just disappointing,” Kay told CTV News Edmonton. “How do you sit a five and a 10-year-old inside and say, ‘You have to stay in here for eight more days because we went to San Diego?’”

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

One requirement, when returning to Canada, that will remain in place after July 5 is pre-departure and on-arrival molecular testing for COVID-19, even for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers. 

The on-arrival tests which must be less than 72 hours old upon are readily available in places like California, but according to one travel insurance company that CTV News Edmonton spoke to, they aren’t free for Canadian vacationers. 

One COVID-19 test can be purchased in that state, in most big name pharmacies, and costs about $175 CAD.

“It shouldn’t be difficult to get a test to return home,” City of Anaheim spokesperson Lauren Gold told CTV News Edmonton.

As for tests for returns from New York, Gilfillan said he’s still looking into that.

“Researching that this morning, before we booked our flights,” he said. “It wasn’t clear to me where we’re going to be able to book that test.”

The New York couples trip, Gilfillan said, will be a much needed boost to he and his wife’s mental health, and he’s confident they’ll be able to work out those details by the time they need to.

All international commercial flights will continue to be funneled through the Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport and Vancouver International Airport.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Dan Grummett

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