Just as the busy holiday travel season begins, Canada is warning citizens against any non-essential travel abroad. The global advisory comes as reports have swirled that government leaders are mulling tighter travel restrictions in response to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Canada issued a travel advisory on Wednesday asking citizens to avoid all nonessential international travel as the Omicron variant spreads at an unprecedented rate. "We see the situation abroad, and we're afraid and concerned with what could happen to Canadians who would choose to go abroad in the next few weeks," said Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada's health minister, at a news briefing on Wednesday via CNN.
Reuters reported on Wednesday the Canadian government was considering measures like a ban on foreign travelers coming to Canada, regardless of their point of departure. That reportedly would have included arrivals from the US but so far that hasn't come to pass. There are also talks of stricter quarantine and testing rules for all arrivals including Canadian residents and citizens.
Upon being questioned about further restrictions — like a possible return to the hotel quarantine for arriving passengers — Duclos told journalists "all options are on the table" according to Canadian broadcaster CBC.
Under the current entry rules, international visitors are permitted to travel to Canada provided they are fully jabbed with an approved vaccine. In Canada, that means the double dose Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca vaccines, and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They are also required to present a negative PCR result from a test taken within 72 hours of traveling to Canada.
Earlier in December, Canada announced it would randomly test some air passengers arriving from non-U.S. foreign countries. Duclos reportedly promised to ramp up the capability to test more passengers.
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Monday that there is now community transmission of Omicron and she expects the situation to "rapidly escalate" in the coming days.
You might also like:
Ski season begins in the US and Canada: What to know before you hit the slopes in 2021
The 14 best road trips in Canada
Toronto's top attractions have it all: culture, sports and delicious dining