Canada Announces Sweeping New Travel Restrictions in Attempt to Contain COVID-19


Canada introduces new travel restrictions for snowbirds

Last Updated: February 2, 2021

On January 29, 2021, Prime Minister Trudeau announced sweeping new measures for travellers that will come into effect in the coming days and weeks.

The measures are intended to further protect Canadians from the new variants of the COVID virus that are circulating.

While Trudeau acknowledged that travel is only responsible for about 2% of cases, he pointed out that just one travel case infected a Barrie, Ont. nursing home with the new British variant that resulted in multiple deaths and many cases.

All flights suspended between Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico

Effective Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, all four of Canada’s major airlines – Air Canada, West Jet, Air Transat and Sunwing – have agreed to cancel all flights between Canada and Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean and Canada and Costa Rica until April 30, 2021.  

These airlines will organize ways for their existing customers in affected destinations to get home, either on repatriation flights or through other carriers. Snowbirds in these destinations should contact their travel agent or airline for further information.

So far, flights between Canada and other destinations, including the United States, will continue to operate, but it is possible this may change in the future.

All International flights must land at one of Canada’s 4 largest airports

For the foreseeable future, all international flights arriving in Canada will only be able to land at Canada’s four largest airports: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.

COVID testing will be mandatory for all arriving air passengers

All arriving international air passengers will be required to take a PCR COVID test at the airport.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced today that this testing requirement will come into effect at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Monday, February 1st, ahead of when Federal testing requirements begin at other airports, which is expected to begin soon.

Mandatory hotel quarantines

All international air travellers will be required to stay in a supervised government approved quarantine hotel, at their own expense, until their test results come back, which is expected to take approximately 3 days.

The cost to travellers for the mandatory hotel stay and COVID testing will be approximately $2,000.

If you test negative, you may go to your home and complete the remainder of your 14-day quarantine there, under what the Prime Minister has described as “significantly increased surveillance”. This increased surveillance will be conducted by private security firms who have been hired by the Federal government to monitor travellers who are quarantining at home.

Travellers will also be required to be tested again on Day 10 of their quarantine, regardless of their initial test result, according to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

If your test is positive, you will be required to go to a government run quarantine centre.

These requirements have not yet come into effect, as the government is still in the process of making arrangements for quarantine hotels and setting up quarantine centers for those who test positive. The government has stated that these requirements will come into effect "quickly" but has not provided an exact date yet.

For updates and more information, keep checking the government website at

Pre-flight COVID tests still required

The new measures do not replace the requirement introduced at the end of December for a negative COVID test to be completed within 72 hours prior to flying to Canada.

COVID testing at the land border is coming soon

Trudeau made it clear that COVID testing upon arrival in Canada will also be required at the land border soon.

The government will introduce a 72-hour pre-arrival testing requirement (molecular test) for travellers seeking entry in land mode. No further details about land border testing are available at this time and no set date was given for when this requirement would come into effect.

It was not clear if mandatory hotel quarantines will be enforced at the land border once this new testing requirement begins.

More details on land border testing will be announced soon.

What if I’ve been vaccinated?

At this time, travellers who have already been vaccinated are NOT exempt from any testing or quarantine rules. You will be subject to the same pre-arrival and post-arrival COVID testing requirements and all quarantine requirements upon arriving in Canada as other travellers.

What if I’ve had COVID?

If you have had COVID-19, you can test positive for up to 6 months. This scenario has not yet been addressed by the Canadian government.

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