The holidays are on the horizon, which means it’s the time of year many Canadians would usually travel to see family, take vacations or head abroad for some winter sun. 

However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s travel restrictions are a little different to normal.

Right now, there’s an international travel advisory in place and federal officials continue to urge Canadians to stay at home wherever possible.

In fact, in some regions people are even being asked to limit non-essential outings and errands ahead of the holidays.

While the government can strongly advise wannabe-travellers to stay inside the country during the pandemic, they are yet to enforce an all-out ban on travel.

If you’ve been wondering why, this is what you need to know:

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What are Canada's travel rules right now?

Since the early days of the pandemic in Canada, the federal government has advised against international travel.

Way back on March 13, Justin Trudeau shared his initial concerns about going abroad and warned Canadians to avoid all non-essential trips outside of the country.

At around the same time, an official travel advisory was issued, urging citizens to “avoid all non-essential travel outside Canada and to avoid all cruise ship travel outside Canada until further notice.”

The notice goes on to “strongly advise” Canadians to follow official suggestions, to ensure their "personal safety and security.”

However, this isn’t an all-out ban.

But what does that mean?

Essentially, it’s just advice.

Right now, there are no formal bans or restrictions that would actually prevent a Canadian from taking a discretionary trip abroad.

While the individual would have to quarantine upon their return to Canada, there is nothing to stop them from leaving in the first place.

However, that doesn’t mean travelling internationally right now would be easy.

“If you choose to travel despite these advisories, be aware that commercial airspace closures and movement restrictions can occur without warning and could prevent your return to Canada,” explains the advisory.

Officials also say that no repatriation flights are planned right now, so you could end up stranded in another country.

In addition, travellers may face restrictions at their destination, may not be covered by insurance policies and may not be able to receive consular services.

This basically means if you end up in any hot water while you’re away, you may have to deal with it alone!

Why isn't there an all-out ban?

During a Government committee meeting on November 25, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair explained that the federal government cannot implement a full travel ban due to Canadians’ constitutional rights.

Blair confirmed, per CBC News, that Canadians have the right to travel abroad and return back home.

“Canadian citizens have the right to enter, remain in, and leave Canada,” states Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This would make it extremely awkward for the government to implement an all-out travel ban, as the right to travel could only be limited for “justifiable” reasons.

Rather than attempt to implement such a rule, it seems the government is simply sticking with advisories and strong suggestions.

Speaking earlier this month, Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland said that going abroad right now is “not a good idea,” but confirmed that the government “will not stop” anybody who does.

*This article’s cover image is for illustrative purposes only.

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