CALGARY — The next round of restrictions on international travel officially kicked in Thursday morning as Ottawa hopes to discourage non-essential trips and slow the spread of new COVID-19 variants.
Effective midnight, all international flights landing in Canada will now be funnelled to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver.
This includes flights from the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, that had been exempted from the previous restriction.
Over the coming weeks, the federal government is also going to require all international travellers to pay a fee of $2,000 to quarantine for up to three days at an approved hotel, while they await the results of their COVID-19 test.
As a result, the international terminal in Calgary was almost entirely empty Wednesday night and Thursday morning, save for a few travellers like Ron Althouse and his wife Marilyn.
The couple flew back to Calgary from Arizona earlier than they originally anticipated.
“We were not planning to come home until the middle of March, but we just heard so much rhetoric going on that we decided to do it,” said Ron. “We got scared.”
Kaylyn Noad, who travelled to Texas for work, says the additional COVID-19 tests and quarantine isn’t worth the hassle.
“I spent enough time away and I just want to get home.”
Despite the changes, American-based airlines are still operating out of the Calgary International Airport and offering flights.
Travellers could leave from Calgary to Cancun on Delta Airlines Thursday, but with stops first in the United States.
United Airlines is also offering Mexico flights with layovers in Houston or Denver. Travel experts highly recommend purchasing travel or COVID-19-related insurance if anyone is considering any sort of international trip.
Canadian-based airlines have grounded flights to warm destinations, including Mexico and the Caribbean, until the end of April.
Ottawa made the request to prevent more travel-related cases of COVID-19 and its variants.