Vacationing in Canada? Here's what your summer holidays might look like
TORONTO -- As summer approaches, many Canadians are wondering what the season will look like with restrictions on socializing, public gatherings and travel casting a shadow over their vacation planning.
Summer travel is sure to be different amid the COVID-19 pandemic this year, with international trips unlikely -- even to the U.S. as the border remains closed to non-essential travel for another month, at least. However, some provinces' borders are open, offering Canadians the chance to explore their own country by hitting the road instead of taking a plane.
There are no travel restrictions from B.C. to Ontario, however provincial health officials are asking residents to avoid non-essential travel within and outside their home province.
While Saskatchewan hasn't closed its interprovincial border, the government issued an order in April that restricts all non-essential travel into and out of northern communities in the province.
Manitoba has also established information checkpoints at provincial border crossings -- including four entering from Saskatchewan and one from Ontario – set up to inform travellers of the risks of COVID-19.
Roadblocks were set up at the start of pandemic across Quebec as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. The province started removing them at the beginning of May, including the checkpoint on the border between Ottawa and Gatineau, but health officials say non-essential movements between regions is still not recommended.
In Atlantic Canada, rules about travel are much stricter.
Newfoundland and Labrador amended the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act on May 4 to implement a travel ban barring anyone but permanent residents and workers in essential sectors from entering the province. The bill gives power to police to potentially remove people who are not primary residents from the province. However, a lawsuit has been filed by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) challenging the legislation.
In New Brunswick, peace officers are stationed 24-7 at each of the seven interprovincial land entry points in the province to uphold the province’s state of emergency banning all non-essential travel including tourism and social visits. Nova Scotia has also implemented checkpoints at every major entry point into the province with anyone entering being stopped and questioned. Prince Edward Island remains closed to non-residents until June.
All three territories have active public health orders prohibiting non-essential travel from the rest of Canada with exceptions for returning residents, essential workers and people exercising treaty rights. Nunavut requires that all travellers -- even returning residents or critical workers -- isolate for 14 days in designated centres in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife before they travel into the territory.
While Yukon is closed to visitors, residents are allowed to travel throughout the territory to other communities.
CAMPING, COTTAGES AND RENTALS
As provinces start to loosen COVID-19 restrictions, the reopening of campgrounds may provide a summer vacation for some. While camping at national parks will not be allowed until at least June 21, most provinces have opened or are soon opening camping facilities.
In B.C. and Alberta, camping in some parks and other campsites will open in June if virus transmission remains low. Campsites are currently open in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick. Camping is not yet allowed in Quebec.
In Ontario, seasonal campers are permitted to access their RVs and trailers and stay overnight on campgrounds, but only if the trailer or RV hooks up to electric and water services. Campgrounds within provincial parks remain off limits.
According to the Canadian Camping Association, some provinces have already cancelled overnight camps for kids this year, but the prospects for day camps in some parts of the country are still up in the air.
For those who aren't interested in camping, cabins and other short-term rentals may be an option.
In Canada, renting a property this summer depends on what province you want to visit. In addition, AirBnb has updated their policies, banning all units that allow a party to take place during the pandemic and removing any listings that try to exploit the situation by marketing themselves as a "safe haven."
Short-term rentals are banned for the time being in Quebec and Ontario to discourage travel amid the pandemic, but seasonal homeowners can stay at their cottages. Health officials are asking seasonal owners to exercise caution while visiting as those who live year-round at seasonal hotspots are wary that an influx of visitors will increase the spread of COVID-19. Health officials in these provinces recommend staying away from recreational properties if not necessary.
In Prince Edward Island, Canadian seasonal residents are allowed to apply to travel to the island starting June 1. They must submit relevant travel and property ownership documentation and self-isolation plans prior to travelling to the province. Seasonal residents from the U.S. and visitors from other provinces are not allowed.
For Canadians traveling across interprovincial borders by car, there is a possibility that they will be stopped at a checkpoint and asked to provide documentation of cottage ownership. If you are unable to produce it, then you may be forced to turn back.