In this illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. The new coronavirus outbreak is affecting Canadians’ March break travel plans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-CDC via AP, File

In this illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. The new coronavirus outbreak is affecting Canadians’ March break travel plans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-CDC via AP, File

Novel coronavirus outbreak affecting Canadians’ March break travel plans

The global spread of the virus comes during one of the busiest travel times of the year for Canadians

Cindy Perry was all set for a March break trip to California with her wife and their two children, but the novel coronavirus outbreak that is sweeping the globe made her reconsider her plans.

After weighing her options, the Toronto mom ultimately decided to cancel the trip to a region where COVID-19 — the disease caused by the new coronavirus — has already killed two people and sickened more than 130 others. About 20 of those cases were acquired through community spread.

“Given the low rates of testing that have been going on in the U.S., just a handful of community cases likely means that it’s pretty widespread,” Perry said.

Travel restrictions that might have come into effect while the family was out of the country were also a concern for Perry.

“Obviously California is not a place where we can easily get ourselves back to Canada if, for example, they decide to cancel flights into and out of the States,” she said.

The global spread of the virus comes during one of the busiest travel times of the year for Canadians, looking for a getaway while kids are out of school.

Both Air Canada and WestJet are waiving fees associated with changing flights booked from March 4 and 5, respectively, through to the 31st. WestJet is also removing normal change and cancel restrictions for customers who have booked a basic fare for travel beginning on or before March 31.

READ MORE: Thinking of travelling? Your insurance policy might not cover COVID-19

The airline has also expanded and increased the frequency of sanitation procedures, in light of coronavirus concerns. In addition to regular cleaners, airline staff are now also using hospital-grade Clorox wipes and spray.

“These new products are used on tray tables as well as general seating areas to ensure all guest contact surfaces are thoroughly disinfected,” WestJet said in a statement.

“The Clorox and (regular) Sanicide products are used to accomplish the cleaning of our galleys, lavatories, tray tables, seat armrests and headrests, seatbelt buckles, the PSU panel (above seats with lights and call buttons), overhead bin door latches and lavatory door handles.”

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport has added extra hand sanitizer stations in the arrivals areas and is more frequently cleaning those spaces, including kiosks and bathrooms. High-traffic areas are regularly disinfected, the airport authority said.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has recommended Canadians avoid travelling on all cruise ships — which have seen several outbreaks — to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Cruise ships have passengers from around the world who may be arriving from areas with known or unknown spread of the novel coronavirus,” she has said.

READ MORE: Cruise lines bring in ‘stringent’ measures to prevent COVID-19 transmission amid outbreaks

Public health and the federal government are strongly urging people to check the online travel advisories which are updated hourly. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also urged Canadians to register with Global Affairs before travelling outside the country.

“March break is coming up and if you’re travelling, we recommend you check out travel advisories from @TravelGoC. We also encourage you to use the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive important updates before & during your travel,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

Canadians are expected to monitor themselves for symptoms when they return home and report to public health if they suspect they may have been infected.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said Canadians with international travel plans during March break should do a “precautionary assessment.”

“Do you need to go on the trip? Where are you going on the trip? What are your risk factors of you going on the trip? Do you have health conditions? What’s the risk factor of taking your children on the trip? What kind of behaviour are you going to be involved with at that end? What kind of ability are you going to have to limit your social distancing in those settings?” he said.

“It’s one thing to be in a very crowded international venue versus you’re just going down and have an AirBnB somewhere and sit on the beach with your kids.”

For Perry, her decision to cancel her family’s California trip came largely for fear of getting stuck there, but she would also worry about contracting the illness and spreading it to more vulnerable people. She was able to cancel all of the rental cars and hotels at no cost, got her Aeroplan points back and only had to pay a few-hundred-dollar fee, so Perry is trying to look on the bright side.

“The kids are disappointed, but it’s still a week off school,” she said.

Allison Jones, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CanadaCoronavirusFamily Vacations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Snowfall warning issued for Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and surrounding communities.
Snowfall warning issued for B.C.’s Interior

Between 10 - 15 cms of snow expected in the Prince George, Stuart - Nechako region

Fort St. James Secondary School announced a confirmed incident of COVID-19 exposure at the school. (Black Press file photo)
COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Fort St. James Secondary School

Northern Health will be following up directly with anyone who is identified as a close contact

RDBN board meeting. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Thiessen and Parker re-elected to RDBN board

The board voted unanimously on Nov. 19

A bus shelter in White Rock is emblazoned with an ad from B.C.’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (Black Press Media files)
VIDEO: ‘Am I racist?’ campaign asks British Columbians to confront their unconscious biases

Signs asking British Columbians to think about racial injustice have been put up across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
Carole James stays on to advise B.C. Premier John Horgan

Retired finance minister to earn a dollar a year

Most Read