Last Updated March 17th, 2020.
Seeing COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) in the news can create anxiety about your travel bookings, but there are many resources at your fingertips that can help you make decisions confidently.
Here’s what Canadians need to know about how COVID-19 policies may affect their booking, where to find the most up to date information, and how to understand their travel insurance coverage.
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are common in both humans and animals. In rare cases, a coronavirus is transmitted from animals to humans and spreads through person-to-person contact. This is the case for COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus that was first identified in the winter of 2019).
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, people infected with COVID-19 may experience symptoms including fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia. It is also possible not to experience any symptoms at all, or to have a mild case that’s mistaken for the common cold. Symptoms may last up to 14 days. In some cases, COVID-19 is fatal.
What COVID-19 travel restrictions should I know about?
On March 16th, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that:
- Canada will be closing its borders to all non-Canadian citizens, with exceptions for immediate family members, Canadian permanent residents, U.S. citizens, diplomats, and aircrews.
- Airlines must refuse boarding to any passenger with COVID-19 symptoms on Canada-bound flights
- Starting on March 18th, international flights to Canada (except from the U.S.A., Mexico, and the Caribbean) will only be admitted through Toronto Pearson Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Montreal Trudeau Airport, and Calgary International Airport.
- All Canadians are asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the country.
As announced on March 13th, 2020, no cruise ships with more than 500 passengers will be allowed to dock in Canada before July 1st, 2020.
"To help Canadians abroad return home, the Government of Canada is creating a special financial assistance program, the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad. With this program, Canadian abroad directly impacted by COVID-19 will have the option of applying for an emergency loan of up to $5,000 to help secure their timely return to Canada and to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return." Learn more here.
Some travel destinations, including the USA, have imposed temporary visa restrictions because of COVID-19 concerns. Many travel providers have also made temporary changes to their schedules or services.
What to Check Before You Travel
The Government of Canada, the World Health Organization, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) all provide up-to-the-minute information about COVID-19 for travellers.
We have compiled a list of the most reliable web pages you can double-check before your trip begins.
- Check this site for an always-current list of active COVID-19 travel advisories
- Browse practical information for travellers
- Browse information about COVID-19 risk, by province
- Check for updated travel advice and other resources
- Search this database of health and safety advisories for up-to-date information about your travel destination
- Browse recommendations for travel immunizations, drinking precautions, and other guidance before your trip
- Check to see how your cruise line is responding to travel advisories
- Browse the extra precautions that may be in effect
- Find up-to-date government-imposed travel restrictions which may affect flights, travel visas, or entry to borders in your travel destination
- Check for updates to WHO’s recommendations for international travel
Sign up for the Government of Canada’s Registration of Canadians Abroad service
- Receive important updates directly to your phone or email.
Remember, your Expert Traveller is an invaluable resource! She, he, or they can help you stay up to date on travel modifications for airlines, hotels, cruise ships, and tour providers. Stay in touch with your Expert Traveller or Business Travel Manager and don’t hesitate to use Flight Centre’s 24/7 customer support line for assistance with changing existing or new travel bookings.
What About Travel Insurance?
Flight Centre offers travel insurance coverage with our partner, Allianz. As of March 11, 2020, Allianz is determining coronavirus to be a known event for Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption. As a result, any Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption claims related to coronavirus will not be payable if your policy was purchased on or after March 11, 2020*.
- This will not impact policies purchased before March 11, 2020
- This will not impact "Cancel For Any Reason" policies
- This will not impact emergency medical benefits (unless the Government of Canada issued a travel advisory related to coronavirus prior to your departure date, that advised against non-essential travel or all travel for your destination.)
- Trip Cancellation coverage will remain eligible for policyholders who contract COVID-19 in Canada and must cancel their trip
- For policies purchased on or after March 11, 2020, trip cancellation and trip interruption benefits are not payable for claims related to COVID-19 travel advisories
*For the most up to date information about your Allianz travel coverage, check their Coverage Alerts page, review your insurance policy, or ask your Flight Centre Expert Traveller or Business Travel Manager.
Flight Centre Travel Group loves to open up the world for those who want to see. If you’re looking for more guidance about your upcoming travel plans or need help to modify an existing booking, don’t be a stranger! Our Expert Travellers and Business Travel Managers will be happy to help.