With the needless Seinfeld election behind us, we can now return you to the regularly scheduled fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue with your indoor mask-wearing, do practice physical distancing, and by all means, feel free to complain about and lambaste the willfully unvaccinated whose choice imperils not only their own health, but our community health as well.
And let me vent on this point for one more paragraph. With over six billion vaccination doses administered globally (not enough in developing countries to be blunt), COVID-19 vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and effective... to assert anything else qualifies you as a moron! Also, the hypocrisy of the willfully unvaccinated (outside of medical reasons) is something to behold since they have blatantly vaccinated themselves against science, but I digress.
Now, to get back on message, your less than humble scribe enjoyed a grand summer away from these pages with plenty of exercise, great books, safe outdoor gatherings with friends, and the odd – okay, several – bottles of red wine to pair with grilled protein and veggies du jour on the barbecue.
And unlike last summer where travel was confined to single day or overnight trips, I managed to leave the country and get back in safely in a relatively straightforward manner.
Which brings us to today’s column and a recent chat I had with our entrepreneurial and seasoned editor, Fred Sherwin. We both love to travel and share a particular affinity for places where they have beaches, aquamarine tinted water, soothing trade wind breezes and the only snow the locals have ever seen was on television. As we find our next normal, travel is back... and in a big way. On a recent trip back into Canada through Montréal, if not for mandatory masks, I wouldn’t have known we were still in the midst of a global pandemic. The customs arrival hall was packed, period.
My personal appeal to you is if you want to travel, travel and make your plans now, today, and don’t hesitate. It just requires a little more planning on flight times, understanding the various types of tests required, finding testing locations in host countries, arranging private transfers, navigating clauses and clauses of travel insurance coverage, and finally, being prepared for the unexpected.
This is our next normal for a year or even longer. From proof of vaccination at home to testing requirements abroad, like it or not, mobility comes with obligations.
First up, book a hotel, resort or cruise that offers free or discounted accredited testing within the 72-hour window you need to return to Canada. Next, look at your flight timing options. As much as Saturday or Sunday is ideal to fly and arrive when heading south, it is also ideal for everyone. Consider mid-week flights when destination airports may be less crowded. And double mask, with a KN-95 mask and cloth mask on top … if it works for public health types, it can work for you too.
Once you arrive in the US, the Caribbean or Europe, your two favourite words should become “private transfer”. Eschew the group bus, public transport, or any app-based ride-sharing service if you can. Suck it up as it does pay to invest a little bit more in a private sedan or SUV for you and your family – peace of mind is invaluable. These services are waiting for you at your arrival airport and will often get you to your destination an hour or more sooner than the usual tour company bus, mass transit option, etc.
Other things to consider as you plan your travels abroad include the availability of outdoor dining options, the occupancy ratio of your destination property, cleaning schedules for your accommodation, any local masking and public health edicts, and most importantly in my opinion, will you feel safe and be available to physically distance during your sojourn.
Today, to return to Canada, you need to provide proof of a negative-result for COVID-19 from a PCR test and use the ArriveCan app to upload this declaration and other relevant information. Let me give credit where credit is due: to the folks at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and all other departments or agencies involved in this app, bravo! The app or on-line process is intuitive and easy to complete.
COVID-19 is not going away. The exhortation of Canada’s leading public health officer to “crush COVID” flies in the face of Virology 101, nonetheless, we need to live our lives. Be safe, make wise choices, and don’t deny your inner Gulliver, travel and be well. As always, we are #InThisTogether.