While the declared pandemic continues to present challenges to our daily lives, and the management of it coast to coast continues to be wrought with inconsistency, we feel it important to set the record straight and to provide some much-needed perspective on travel during these uncertain times.
At no point since the pandemic was called back in mid-March 2020 has it been illegal to board a plane and leave our country or to fly an airplane into Canada. Even when Canadian international flights were grounded for a period, this was not due to it being illegal to fly, it was done by Air Canada and WestJet on account of the low number of traveling passengers during that period. The Canadian Foreign Affairs department came out with a recommendation, to ‘Avoid all Non-Essential Travel’ on March 13, 2020. Those recommendations remain in place, repeatedly being extended throughout the ensuing months. Not a law nor a decree, but a recommendation, just as CFA have made recommendations from time to time that Canadians should avoid many parts of the world, Iraq, Libya, Mexico, and parts of Africa and South America just to name a few. As it is not a law, it requires personal consideration as to whether to follow it or not. It requires reflection from an individual perspective on the risks, logistics and benefits of any travel, and that decision should be able to be made by any Canadian whether holding position in the private sector or in a government office.
During the period between March 17, 2020 and early December 2020, there were 44 known cases of Covid-19 transmission directly associated with more than one billion passengers flying worldwide. Based on those numbers, travel continues to be safer than eating take-out food from a local restaurant or shopping in a nearby store, both activities largely considered noble activities. Although travel has shown to be safe, it continues to be frowned on by many of our political leaders and much of society at large. Why continued shame and demotion is being dealt to those who decide that enough is enough, opting for a break from pandemic lockdown, is a question we have. We think managing your mental health with a break during these crazy times is not a selfish act. Recharging in the sun or in a location without the same restrictions as we presently have at home should not be discouraged. Travelling to parts of the world including states in the USA such as Texas and Florida, where presently Canadians can access the vaccines at local pharmacies for as little as $25 or in some cases for free is highly responsible. Who knows when we will be able to access those same vaccines here in Canada.
Those that stay at home, sacrificing health and sanity are a far greater risk to fellow Canadians than those that opt to travel. I wonder how many reading this article have had a low-grade fever or symptoms that have been on the Covid-19 list of possible symptoms at one point or another who have elected to self-medicate at home and not be tested or quarantined? That would seem to be a greater risk to us all than those traveling abroad. How many know someone affected deeply by the mental anguish caused by separation, isolation, and fearmongering? Is that not impactful on our society both in terms of cost and individual health? Those that travel on the other hand are tested when they return, they must quarantine for 14 days and now are even required to be tested within 72 hours of leaving the country they are traveling from. The safest people in our present arrangement are those that have traveled and returned to Canada.
The Alberta government in conjunction with the Canadian government have been logging tests in their YYC Rapid Testing pilot program. These tests are not for Essential workers, as they are not required to test or quarantine. It is for those with non-essential travel plans. It is to help facilitate those that wish to travel in a safe manner, as well as to preserve an entire segment of our workforce as well as the vital travel industry that has been battered significantly by lock-down after lock-down. Enough is enough.
It is also important to note here, that during the entirety of the declared global pandemic, it has been possible to secure travel insurance to include coverage for Covid-19 related claims if your present policy does not cover that risk. Costs for such coverage vary broadly based on destination, age, and health. Currently, travelers under the age of 60 can get Covid-19 coverage for up to $500,000 for as little as $0.23/day to travel to the USA and $0.19/day to travel to Non-USA destinations. For those looking for higher limits of coverage, we issue policies at the following levels: $1 Million CAD, $1 Million USD, $2 Million USD, $8 Million USD as well as an Unlimited plan. All costs for this extra coverage are quite reasonable and lend credence to the idea that the risk of acquiring the virus and needing hospitalization is very small.
It should also be noted that many countries have placed a great emphasis on finding treatments as well as prophylactic measures using repurposed pharmaceuticals to better deal with Covid-19. Many of those pharmaceuticals are available without a prescription in other parts of the world.
We have our own suggestion for you, ‘Avoid all travel’ before securing appropriate coverage for whatever risks you may face. Of course, in a select few instances that may lead you to determine the best approach with your unique set of circumstances is to stay at home. For everyone else, what are you waiting for?