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MONTREAL — The 14-day mandatory quarantine for all travellers entering or returning to Canada is one of the biggest roadblocks to selling travel these days, as travel agents will attest.
Two Canadian travel agents, one just back from France, another recently returned from a Cancun all-inclusive resort, spoke to ProfessionVoyages.com director Gwendoline Duval about their experiences travelling abroad during the pandemic, and how they handled the mandatory quarantine upon their return. Profession Voyages is part of the Travelweek Group.
The federal government is still advising against non-essential travel outside of Canada, plus the 14-day mandatory quarantine remains in effect until August 31, with the possibility of extension.
The burden of the 14-quarantine gets even more complicated for people travelling on their own but with family at home, especially in cases where a family member must leave the house for work, or when a traveller’s social bubble includes elderly and/or at-risk family members in need of care. Many have called the mandatory quarantine the biggest hurdle to getting the Canadian travel industry re-started amid the pandemic, even more than the challenges with getting insurance.
But it can be done. Duval spoke with Aurore Bonvalot, who was in France, and Sandra Snyder, at the Cancun resort, about their experiences.
PROTOCOLS GENERALLY WELL-RESPECTED
Bonvalot and Snyder said that with both Air France and Air Canada, hygiene rules were “very well respected”, both by staff and passengers. The women reported that the planes were almost full and health protocols were scrupulously followed, including temperatures taken several times.
Snyder told Duval she was satisfied with the measures taken at her Cancun resort. On arrival, private transport took guests to the hotel, with a family and a couple together in the vehicle together. Before getting into the car, there was a disinfection process for the luggage, both on arrival and on departure from the hotel. Masks were mandatory on arrival and departure from the hotel.
At the buffet, Snyder noted, resort staff serve the guests and there is hardly any self-service.
In France, a few new clusters of COVID-19 have recently emerged. Bonvalot told Duval that the seriousness of the locals in regards to health protocols depends on the region, as not all regions have been affected equally by the virus. Some residents in smaller, less affected areas are “quite relaxed” about masks and social distancing, says Bonvalot.
But she tells others not to worry, that in general, distancing measures and the wearing of masks “are well respected throughout most of the country and especially in bigger cities”. Masks are now compulsory by law in all enclosed public spaces in France (and now in crowded outdoor Paris locations as well) and most citizens and visitors are abiding by the rules.
THE 14-DAY QUARANTINE
Both Bonvalot and Snyder say the 14-day quarantine can be managed fairly easily if travellers are properly prepared, especially for those already working from home.
Both agents advise travellers to plan their quarantine in advance, “because you need to report the address to officials at the airport and be prepared to sustain yourself without outside contact.” A Canada border agent may ask logistics questions.
They say it is also very likely that a government agent will call during the quarantine to verify that the quarantine is being followed.
On arrival at the airport, information forms on COVID-19 must be completed (via the ArriveCAN app in particular). Respect the 14-day quarantine “and your return trip will be fine”, according to the two agents.
TRAVEL IS POSSIBLE
The agents note that the government’s advisory against non-essential travel is not a ban. Both say they strongly advise other agents to set off again to discover the destinations for themselves, even more so during this time “when informing and reassuring our customers is essential.”
“The hotel and resort staff are really happy to see travellers coming back. The service is incredible and they really make you feel safe,” they added.
More feedback and insight from Bonvalot and Snyder can be heard in Profession Voyages’ Facebook Live with the two agents, already with more than 6,000 views. Click here to view the Facebook Live interview (in French) now.