How to prepare for international travel during the pandemic

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Winter weather has officially hit, causing many to consider warmer climates and perhaps book international flights. But how can people travel safely during the COVID-19 pandemic?

An epidemiologist says there are no risk-free activities during COVID, but if people do their homework and are comfortable going somewhere, they should bring COVID essentials with them.

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Cynthia Carr says the risk of travel isn’t just about the mode of transportation you take.

“It’s the settings before and after air travel or other forms of travel,” Carr said.

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It adds that people should check travel alerts, vaccination rates and the number of active cases for any destination.

“You can’t think about the virus and say ‘I really need to go there’ because the virus doesn’t care. So understand and do your part.”

Arthur Silber is a frequent flyer and is OK with traveling internationally, but he said he takes precautions.

“If I go somewhere with too many people, I turn around and walk out. I put on my mask, I use sanitizer. I travel with my antigen test, so if I don’t feel well, I do an antigen test and make sure I’m okay,” Silber said.

The number of people traveling again is beginning to rise at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport according to Tyler McAfee, vice president of communications and government relations with the Winnipeg Airports Authority.

“Our number is up 157 percent from the same period last year, which is great and would be amazing, but we are only about 40 percent in a pre-pandemic phase,” McAfee said.

He added that travel during the summer increased domestically and that international travel now grew in the winter.

International travel bookings are on the rise compared to domestic travel, Daryl Silver, president of Continental Travel Group, said, but the biggest hurdle so far is asking for a PCR test to return to Canada.

“However, if the need for a test to go back to Canada is dropped, we would see a very large increase,” Silver said.

Silber plans to travel further, having already visited Europe and booked a trip to Mexico, but he will continue to be careful.

“Just make sure it’s safe. Right now I’m not going to Austria. There’s a lot going on in Austria. (US), I haven’t been there since March 2020. I don’t feel safe to go there yet,” Silber said.

Carr also suggests people check the health care system they’re visiting as an accident or unexpected health problem can still occur.

When it comes to PCR testing requirements, Canada’s Health Minister said the government is ready to announce that very soon.

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