The Omicron variant was not likely to derail many Canadians’ Christmas plans.
Due to the federal government’s recommendation against travelling outside of Canada due to rising COVID-19 infections, which went into force in mid-December, last month witnessed more international travel to and from Canada than any other month since the pandemic began.
According to information recorded by the Canada Border Services Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada, 7,42,400 Canadians travelled back into the country via Canadian airports during December. This represents a roughly eight-fold increase from December 2020, when only 93,800 Canadians travelled.
The week of December 27 to January 2, just following Christmas, witnessed the largest volume of travel to Canada. That week, 215,665 Canadian citizens returned to Canada by flight. The busiest week for foreign nationals flying into Canada was December 20 to 26.
According to the information obtained, 125,526 foreign nationals travelled into the country that week, with a total of 3,52,900 for the month of December.
While airline travel seems to be on the mend, these figures are still a long way from December 2019, when nearly 1.1 million Canadians and 577,800 international nationals flew. In December, there were 6,08,900 Canadians returning from the United States at the land border, a fourfold increase over the previous year.
Americans also travelled to Canada 2,91,600 times in the same month. Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases caused by Omicron, the federal government issued some advice on December 15 advising Canadians to prevent all non-essential travel outside of the nation.
On December 21, the federal also toughened border testing rules, insisting that all travellers entering Canada provide a negative molecular test result, irrespective of the length of air travel or vaccination records. Travel to other countries or provinces also decreased once mandatory testing requirements were implemented.
In the first 20 days of December, 24, about 600 Canadians returned from the United States on average. Following December 21, the median dropped to 10,600, which was less than half of what it had been earlier in the month.
Travellers arriving in Canada by air from any country other than the United States may be randomly chosen to take a PCR screening. However, as provinces fail to meet their own PCR testing capabilities, airports and airlines argue that testing arrivals is a waste of resources and have asked the federal government to remove the mandate.
As of Saturday, Canadians and other foreign visitors entering the United States through its land borders must be completely vaccinated, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Foreign visitors travelling into the United States were already required to show proof of immunization.