Cross Country Checkup

Vaccines & travel plans: What to consider as pandemic restrictions lift

With provinces and territories reopening their economies, and more people becoming fully vaccinated, Canadians are testing their limits as pandemic restrictions ease.

With provinces and territories reopening their economies, many Canadians are navigating new territory

Diners are returning to restaurant patios across the country this month as governments begin reopening the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic's third wave. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

With provinces and territories reopening their economies, and more people becoming fully vaccinated, Canadians are testing their limits as pandemic restrictions ease.

Diners are returning to restaurants and bars, concerts and festivals are gearing up and travel agents are booking future getaways — all the while many are navigating new territory.

This week on Cross Country Checkup, we're asking about your pandemic summer limits and whether you feel ready for reopening. 

Ahead of the show, we spoke to our guests about tips on summer travel, gathering as second doses reach arms, and why flight attendants are eager to get back in the air.

Here is some of what they said.

Talking vaccines with loved ones, friends

Natasha Sharma, an emotional fitness expert and founder of The Eight-Hour Therapist program, says that when it comes to navigating complicated conversations around vaccines and comfort with gathering with family and friends, it's important to set boundaries.

"If you're hosting something or if it's you who's inviting people into your home ... it's your rules," she said.

People wait in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Montreal, Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

That means if a person's vaccine status is important to you — for example, some parents may require loved ones to be vaccinated before meeting a newborn — it's important to be up front about that.

Sharma suggests approaching the conversation in a friendly and non-judgmental way, and sharing your own status first.

"You can say ... 'I want to let you know I've been vaccinated, and it is kind of important to me to know whether the people who are in my close inner circle are vaccinated as well,'" she said.

But, Sharma adds, it's important to give the other party the option to decline.

"You're respecting their right to refuse to answer and that you'll make your decision accordingly on that without becoming angry, without holding anything against them."

WATCH | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on second vaccine dose

'I will take whichever dose is offered to me,' said Trudeau of second dose of COVID-19 vaccine

3 months ago
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question about what Canadians who received AstraZeneca as their first shot should do about their second one. Trudeau received AstraZeneca as his first shot. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization said AstraZeneca recipients should instead receive a second dose of an mRNA vaccine, like the ones offered by Pfizer and Moderna. 1:25

Sharma says that we are facing a "new way of living," and possibly adopting new habits and expectations. 

"You have to ask for what you need, and the only thing you need to do then is sit back and let the other person either want to fill it or have the freedom to not fill it," she said.

Travel interest rising with vaccines

Shalene Dudley, an Ontario-based travel agent and owner of Latitude Concierge Travels, says that as Canadians become fully vaccinated, interest in booking vacations is rising.

Though summer bookings for long-distance travel remains low, Dudley has seen an uptick of reservations for vacations in the fall and winter. 

Already, she has booked a destination wedding for December. And travellers' budgets are bigger than she ever expected.

"They haven't been anywhere in almost two years, and now they really want this to be almost like a bucket list trip. Like, 'If I don't go again, I'm going now and I'm going to really live it up,'" she said.

WATCH | Vaccine certification starting in July for travellers entering Canada

Vaccine certification starting in July for travellers entering Canada

3 months ago
Starting in early July, a new feature on the ArriveCan app will allow travellers to take a photo of or upload a snapshot of their vaccine documentation into the app before going through customs. 4:57

But, Dudley cautions that airline prices are also higher than before. With fewer direct international flights out of Canada, Dudley says travellers are paying more for less desirable connecting flights to sunny destinations. 

She expects that when travel returns in earnest later this year, they could continue to rise.

And now that COVID is a well-known threat, travel insurance is strongly recommended, Dudley added.

"I don't think it'll be as easy next year for people to just say, 'We can't go due to COVID.' You will need insurance."

Take precautions, get vaccinated: flight attendant

Flight attendant Sara Mendoza lost her job in March 2020 when the pandemic grounded many flights in Canada. 

But now, as travel begins to gear up, she has signed on with a new carrier and is looking forward to getting back in the sky this fall.

"Aviation is honestly a way of life," Mendoza told Checkup. "We do it because we really, really love it.

Flight attendant Sara Mendoza is urging Canadians to be respectful to flight staff as travel begins ramping up. (Achmad Ibrahim/AP)

But now, as she plans to reenter the airplane cabin, she worries about how passengers will respond to new rules, like wearing a mask while onboard.

"I've been seeing a lot of aggressive news stories in regards to just passengers really fighting flight attendants and pilots," she said. "I'm more worried about my physical safety rather than, let's say, something happening to the aircraft."

And for those looking to fly in the coming months, she offers this recommendation.

"My number one thing that I would say for anybody in aviation, myself or anybody who wants to travel is look into getting vaccinated," she said.

Written by Jason Vermes with files from Abby Plener and Mikee Mutuc.

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