Canada joining the stampede of nations dropping COVID travel restrictions

masked passenger in airplane cabin

Ottawa’s worst-kept secret is now official. The federal government of Canada announced Monday that it will remove all COVID-19 entry restrictions, as well as testing, quarantine, and isolation requirements for anyone entering Canada, effective October 1, 2022.

In a release, the government said that several factors lead to the decision to lift border measures, including modelling that indicates that Canada has largely passed the peak of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 wave along with the country’s high vaccination rates, lower hospitalization and death rates, as well as the availability and use of vaccine boosters (including new bivalent formulation), rapid tests, and treatments for COVID-19.

Effective October 1, 2022, all travellers, regardless of citizenship, will no longer have to:

  • submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website
  • provide proof of vaccination
  • undergo pre- or on-arrival testing
  • carry out COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation
  • monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 upon arriving to Canada.

Transport Canada is also removing existing travel requirements. As of October 1, 2022, travellers will no longer be required to:

  • undergo health checks for travel on air and rail
  • wear masks on planes and trains.

Although the masking requirement is being lifted, all travellers are strongly recommended to wear high quality and well-fitted masks during their journeys.

Cruise measures are also being lifted, and travellers will no longer be required to have pre-board tests, be vaccinated, or use ArriveCAN.  A set of guidelines will remain to protect passengers and crew, which will align with the approach used in the United States.

The government is still recommending that individuals should not travel if they have symptoms of COVID-19. If travellers become sick while travelling, and are still sick when they arrive in Canada, they should inform a flight attendant, cruise staff, or a border services officer upon arrival. They may then be referred to a quarantine officer who will decide whether the traveller needs further medical assessment as COVID-19 remains one of many communicable diseases listed in the Quarantine Act.

The Government of Canada also reminds travellers to make informed decisions when considering travel outside of Canada to protect their health and safety. They are encouraged to review the travel health notices at for more information on safe travel.

While some observers believe the decision by the ruling Liberal government is motivated by domestic politics, and that may be part of it, the truth is that a long list of countries have been lifting their own travel restrictions in recent weeks.

What will be interesting is if the pandemic, which World Health Organization officials have warned the rich countries of the world is not over,  spawns more virulent variants. How quickly will governments be willing to reimpose travel restrictions?



What would the Northern Lights look like to the colourblind?

Northern Lights glasses for the colourblind

If you’re lucky enough to have seen the Northern Lights, you know how  colourful they can be, but if you’re one of the many people who are colourblind, you can’t really enjoy this natural display to its fullest.

Travel Yukon and EnChroma, a leading producer of glasses for colourblindness and low vision, decided to do something about that. They teamed up to make the show-stopping Aurora Borealis more accessible than ever before for the colourblind, and provided one Canadian with the chance to see it in full colour for the first time.

Russell Basilio experiences colourblindness. He sees colour in dull hues, especially red and green, which leaves him to interpret the beauty of the world through shapes and textures. In order to demonstrate the power of this new accessibility, Travel Yukon took Russell on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience the northern lights in their truest colourful form.

“Growing up colourblind I always knew I saw the world differently. My sister would describe things to me like the northern lights, but I never really understood what that meant,” said Russell Basilio. “To experience the northern lights in colour with my sister by my side was a gift.”

“With dynamic lights and fantastic hues of greens, purples and reds, the northern lights are one of Yukon’s most beautiful natural phenomena,” said Robin Anderson, Global Marketing Manager at Travel Yukon. “We are grateful for the opportunity to have worked with EnChroma to allow Russell to discover what makes the Yukon one of the best places in the world to experience incredible northern lights viewing.”

Special optical filters in EnChroma glasses expand the range of colours someone who is colourblind can see and make colours more vibrant, clear and distinct to help them experience more of life’s colourful moments and overcome challenges while travelling and in daily life. By coming together, EnChroma and Travel Yukon were able to provide Russell with a week of colourful moments that will last a lifetime.

You can learn more about Russell’s adventure at

Updated rules offer Canadian travellers more protection from flight cancellations and delays

New regulations took effect in Canada today that require airlines to provide passengers with either a refund or rebooking, at the passenger’s choice, when there is a flight cancellation, or a lengthy delay, due to a situation outside the airline’s control.

The new rule is an update to the the Air Passenger Protection Regulations formulated by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) in 2019. It applies to all flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights.

Until now, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations only required refunds to be provided for flight disruptions within the control of airlines.

The new regulatory requirements:

  • Require airlines to provide a passenger affected by a cancellation or a lengthy delay due to a situation outside the airline’s control with a confirmed reservation on the next available flight that is operated by them or a partner airline, leaving within 48 hours of the departure time indicated on the passenger’s original ticket.
  • If the airline cannot provide a confirmed reservation within this 48-hour period, it is required to provide, at the passenger’s choice, a refund or rebooking;
  • Identify what costs must be refunded (unused portion of the ticket, which includes any unused add-on services paid for);
  • Identify the method to be used for refunds (same as the original payment, e.g., a return on the person’s credit card);
  • Require airlines to provide a refund within 30 days.

“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a gap in Canada’s passenger protection framework, with flights delayed or cancelled due to situations outside an airline’s control and where carriers could not rebook passengers within a reasonable time, like a global pandemic. These new regulations will correct this gap,” said The Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, in a release.

“These new requirements provide clarity around timing, cost coverage, method of payment, and deadlines to refund travellers in such situations.”

While many people welcome the new rules, others are critical of them, saying that they still offer airlines wiggle room to avoid refunding passengers while the airlines themselves think they are being unfairly punished for things they cannot directly control.

British airlines are the first to begin dropping face mask mandates

masked passenger in airplane cabin

Despite some experts stating as recently as last month that face masks on passenger planes would likely be here for years to come, some airlines in the United Kingdom are beginning to drop them.

British carrier Jet2 was the first to abandon them for flights in England and Northern Ireland as the U.K. eased its COVID restrictions. Rival airlines EasyJet, TUI and British Airways have done the same and while they still recommend passengers wear masks, they are optional as long as the flight’s arrival or departure points don’t require them.

Here in Canada, there’s no indication as to when federal mandates for masks on planes and trains will end, but individual provinces are beginning to drop their requirements so it’s likely only a matter of time before they go away.

If you are considering ignoring the rules before that time comes, heed the tale of those Sunwing “New Year’s party” passengers, six more of whom were fined $5,000 this week.

Meanwhile, in the United States, where face coverings have been an especially divisive issue, the United States has extended its mask mandate on aircraft and public transit until at least April 18.

While some of the nation’s flight attendant unions wish the masks were here to stay, the union representing those of Southwest Airlines has asked that the mandate be rescinded.

It’s interesting to note that in Asia, where face mask-wearing is a normal practice during cold and flu season, the number of air rage incidents reported over masking rules has been negligible.

Some medical experts have expressed concern that jurisdictions are removing mask requirements too hastily and that the COVID-19 virus and potential mutations remain a threat as long as the majority of the world’s population remains unvaccinated. For that reason, don’t be surprised if you see fellow passengers continuing to wear masks even when they become optional.

Feeling guilty about vacationing right now? Here’s the reason why

If you’re feeling guilty about booking a holiday while war rages in Ukraine, you should know that you’re not alone and there’s a reason you feel that way.

According to American psychotherapist Akua K. Boateng, it’s completely natural to feel bad about the suffering of others even when you’re not directly affected. It’s known as vicarious traumatization and the symptoms can resemble those of PTSD.

“These feelings parallel survivor’s guilt and/or remorse that manifested with COVID within the past two years,” Boateng recently told HuffPost. “Having guilt surface during this time is a sign of self-compassion and deep empathy for those in our world.”

According to the Office for Victims of Crime, a branch of the United States Department of Justice, individuals respond to vicarious trauma in a number of ways.

“People can either become more cynical or fearful, or they can become more appreciative of what they have, or both. Responses to vicarious trauma can be negative, neutral, or positive; can change over time; and can vary from individual to individual, particularly with prolonged exposure,” notes the OVC website.

The war in Europe is definitely having an effect on visitation to countries that neighbour Ukraine.

In an iNews report, Tom Jenkins, chief executive of the European Tourism Association noted that “the recovery trend for arrivals to Europe since January from long-haul markets has been strong, particularly from the US market. Demand from the States is currently holding up, except for destinations such as Russia, Ukraine and neighbouring countries. This may change.”

One of those countries is Hungary, a destination that is popular for river cruises hosted by companies like Avalon Waterways.

In a Travel Weekly story, the company’s managing director, Pam Hoffee said that American travel agents are hearing from clients who are worried about “celebrating” in Hungary while refugees stream into the country.

“Fear is one thing and it’s harder to overcome,” she said at Clia’s RiverView Conference. “But the fact you’re feeling bad is not a reason not to come.”

Her response to those agents and their worried customers is to remind them what a Visit Hungary representative told her: by supporting Eastern European economies such as Hungary’s, they will be able to continue to help refugees.

If you’re still not ready to book a vacation in this climate, you can use some of these ideas from a therapist on how to cope with any feelings of anxiousness or hopelessness you have about Ukraine, the ongoing pandemic, inflation or any of the other things going on in the world right now.