As vaccination rates increase globally, borders are slowly opening up. And that means the prospect of more quarantine-free leisure travel beckons!
At this point, you’ve probably heard of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) to Germany. Now, Canada has been added to the list of countries in the scheme too. This means that returning travellers simply have to self-isolate at home for about a day (to await a negative Covid test result) before they’re free to go out and about again.
Now, before you pack your bags and travel essentials for a grand Canadian adventure, here are some safe travel tips you might find useful as you plan for your holiday in the land of the maple leaf.
1. Pre-trip requirements
Before embarking on your long-awaited trip to Canada, it's important to iron out some pre-trip requirements to ensure a smooth and safe journey.
First things first: get a pre-entry test! Regardless of your vaccination status at the point of travel, all travellers (aged 5 years and older) are required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to arrival in order to enter Canada. These tests should be conducted within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your flight to Canada. Among the several accepted tests is the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), which we are most familiar with in Singapore.
If you've ever contracted Covid-19 and recovered, there is a chance that you may still continue to test positive despite being symptom-free. In such cases, a positive test result is still accepted as long as it was conducted at least 14 days (no more than 180 days) before the flight.
Another crucial step is to upload your proof of vaccination on ArriveCAN (an official online portal by the Canada Government) up to 72 hours before travelling. Because you’ll need your phone on you most of the time, it might be a good idea to bring power banks along.
2. When entering Canada
Just like in Germany, there is no need to serve quarantine when entering Canada from now on — that is, as long as you are fully vaccinated. But what counts as fully vaccinated? According to the Government of Canada, this would mean receiving a full dosage of accepted Covid-19 vaccines for at least 14 full days prior to the entry.
On top of that, you’d need a negative test result that was done during the pre-trip phase as well. To put it simply, here are some things you should have with you when you arrive at the Canadian border:
An ArriveCAN receipt indicating your name
Proof of full dosage vaccination
Pre-entry negative test result
- Other travel documents (e.g. passport and boarding pass)
Upon your entry to Canada, do note that you might be stopped for a mandatory randomised arrival test (even if you’re fully vaccinated)! These could either be on-site tests, or self-swab home kits that are provided for you to complete within 24 hours. If selected, you’ll simply need to complete the test as directed by officers at the border. Don’t worry — there will be no quarantine needed as you wait for your results. You’re also not required to pay a fee to take that randomised test!
Of course, do continue to wear a mask at all times when in public spaces. To better safeguard yourself, remember to maintain a list of close contacts you come across during your trip whenever possible. This could be physical interactions spent with any person for more than 15 minutes.
Some regions in Canada may have different entry restrictions in place for travellers, so make sure you keep yourself updated by checking on the designated travel advisory of each province. For instance, travellers arriving at Nova Scotia are required to complete a Safe Check-in Form, but that’s not mandatory for those heading to Ontario.
3. On your return to Singapore
Upon arriving in Singapore, all travellers (whether Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents) are required to take another Covid-19 PCR test. To streamline the process further, bookings and payment of the test can be made in advance via Singapore Travel Concierge. Once that’s done, all you need to do is head to your declared accommodation and remain in isolation until you receive a negative test result. This typically takes 24 hours.
While a mandatory 7-day stay home notice (SHN) was needed previously, this will no longer take effect from 18th October 2021 onwards thanks to the VTL scheme. Essentially, this means two-way quarantine-free travel for vaccinated folks, and a lot less hassle.
On top of all that news, Singapore Airlines is also ramping up seasonal flights to Vancouver — first to Canada since 2009. Aren’t all these changes exciting?
While travelling may be different from what we remember it to be, these vaccination-differentiated measures manage to at least provide a glimmer of hope. For alternative destinations on the VTL scheme, perhaps consider visiting Germany’s gorgeous cities, such as Munich or Frankfurt!
As nations amp up their efforts in vaccinating their entire population, we’re collectively becoming more resilient with the fight against Covid-19 — and that can only be good news for all you travel-starved souls itching for faraway ventures again.
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