With news that Canada-US border restrictions are set to lift in November, Canadians can load themselves up on gas and prepare to take advantage of the new freedoms. But Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is warning people to continue to “listen closely” to the advice of Canadian officials and medical officials.
As things stand now, that advice is still there to avoid non-essential travel.
“Just be a little careful. We’ve almost, almost got past COVID. We have a high national vaccination rate,” Freeland said.
“Just try to do the things that you need to do and maybe take a step back from doing the things that you want to do. And I think if we keep on doing that for a few more weeks, Canada will really be a whole.” Kind of can put COVID behind us.”
Still, if you decide to travel, here’s how infectious disease experts say you can do it safely.
According to experts, the first and most important thing you can do to keep your travel plans low-risk is to get vaccinated.
“It’s obviously going to be helpful from a health perspective, but also from a regulatory standpoint of being in and out of the (United) States and Canada,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Zain Chagla.
Under new United States rules, non-essential travelers will be asked about their vaccination status at land border crossings, and only those who have been fully vaccinated will be allowed in – without any testing requirements. . Proof of vaccination will be required if selected for random screening.
If you’re not vaccinated, your plans will fail then and there. However, if you have been vaccinated, the next thing to consider is where you want to go.
“We know that COVID numbers differ in terms of the incidence and prevalence of that viral infection in different countries,” said Dr., an infectious disease specialist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. Gerald Evans said.
“And so the first thing I would look at is what is the current incidence and spread of infection within that country.”
Evans said countries such as the United States, Brazil and India have a higher number of COVID-19 cases than elsewhere in the world. However, more new cases are being reported in the UK, India and Russia on a regular basis. According to Evans, all of these factors should be considered when settling on a vacation destination.
Another helpful indicator is the country’s vaccination rate, according to Dr Anna Banerjee, a Toronto-based physician and specialist in the spread of infectious diseases.
It’s a good idea to “be selective where you go” and try to “go places that have high vaccination rates,” she said.
Finally, making sure you’re educated about any specific requirements for things like testing can help keep you safe—and keep your wallet full.
“There may be some rules where you need a specific type of COVID test a few days before your flight,” Banerjee said.
“Otherwise, you can’t return. And if you miss your flight, it can be very expensive.”
Other questions to consider during travel include: where are you living and how COVID-safe is the environment, have the friends you visit been vaccinated, and are there any vulnerable people in your home? There are people who should put you at risk. Virus home, both Evans and Banerjee said.
“When you’ve already decided where your destination is going to be, you tend to think like this,” Evans said.
Even if the environment doesn’t require you to do things like masking or distancing, Banerjee says you can still take extra steps to reduce your exposure.
Banerjee advised potential travelers to “avoid large groups of people where they may not be vaccinated.”
“And even though the policy for wearing masks is very loose, I will continue to wear masks,” she said.
This is because the prevalence of COVID-19 variants may be higher in some regions, Banerjee warned, such as the lambda variant, which is far more prevalent in South America than in Canada. Travelers who are infected abroad may run the risk of bringing these variants home with them.
“From what we have right now, you can be exposed to different types of COVID,” she said.
“You could be exposed to a lambda strain instead of a delta strain, and then you could bring it back (and) introduce a new type of virus, the COVID virus, into Canada or where you live.”
Still, at the end of the day, seriously changing vaccinations changes the chances of any of these ideas becoming a bigger issue, according to Chagla.
“It’s not going to be safe to travel during the pandemic,” he said. “Having a thorough vaccination changes the scope of this disease.”
Armed with vaccines, Chagla said he thinks traveling is “worth considering” at this point.
“Just make sure you know your needs, and the vaccine requirements, the requirements of the industry as you’re doing it,” he said.
Banerjee said it might be wise to wait for the fourth wave to settle down, but she does not expect “a big fifth wave”.
“COVID will be around for a while. It is smoldering and mainly… infects uninfected people,” she said.