Canada has confirmed that its ban on foreign entry will be maintained until at least the end of July. Also extended is the requirement for returning Canadian citizens coming from abroad to quarantine for 14 days. This will come as a blow to the aviation industry in Canada and further afield as it was hoped international flying could begin ramping up soon.
Travel ban extended
The federal government of Canada has confirmed it will extend its travel ban on all international travelers until the end of July. Nobody who is not either a Canadian citizen or permanent resident will be allowed into the country until at least August.
There are some exceptions to this rule, namely US residents who are classified as essential. The ban on US visitors is managed under a separate agreement, set to expire on July 21st. However, that could also be revised depending on the situation later this month.
In an announcement yesterday, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said that this extension of the border closure would run until 23:59 ET on Tuesday, July 31st. In a statement, a spokesperson said,
“The CBSA has implemented travel restrictions across all ports of entry in all modes of transportation — land, sea, air and rail. All travel of an optional or discretionary nature, including tourism and recreation, is covered by these measures.”
Under the Canadian regulations, only essential workers who are US citizens will be allowed into the country. Essential workers include healthcare workers and other key workers involved in the fight against COVID.
For Canadian citizens, travel is allowed. However, the country will maintain its quarantine rules for everyone coming in, so even Canadian nationals will have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
The travel ban and quarantine rules were originally implemented in March to prevent the spread of COVID, but were expected to expire yesterday, on June 30th. Failure to comply with the rules on quarantine carries harsh penalties of up to six months in prison and a fine of CA$750,000 ($554,000).
What does this mean for airlines?
Airlines, both within Canada and from outside, had begun to ramp up operations in the hope that the travel ban would be lifted. Qatar Airways has made plans to begin daily flights to Canada from Saturday, and WestJet’s July schedule included a number of flights to the US.
Previously, Air Canada’s CEO Calin Rovinescu, had called the travel ban a “cold shower” on trying to rebuild the aviation industry and had high hopes that the ban would be lifted soon. However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has remained cautious about opening borders too soon, worried that a second wave of infections would hit the nation.
The extended border closure will be unwelcome news for airlines, particularly those within Canada. Already Air Canada is flying to numerous international destinations, including London, Hong Kong, and Mexico City. While there are people who will want to travel anyway, perhaps accepting the 14-day quarantine as an unavoidable consequence, Air Canada can be assured of a low load factor on most of these services.
A small glimmer of hope exists, however, in Canada’s robust domestic market. Air Canada noted last month that it had seen an uptick in domestic flight bookings. Hopefully, this will be something to sustain the nation’s many air carriers until international travel becomes a possibility.
It’s not yet known how Europe will react to this extension of the travel ban. Yesterday, the European Union released a list of nations allowed entry from today, July 1st. The list included Canada but not the US.
– Simply Flying