We recently made our way over to Canada to get ready for our little guy to make his appearence but this meant having to jump through a few hoops and travel restrictions/requirements.
Currently Canada’s borders are shut to international travel. You can fly into Canada for very few reasons, one of them being returning home which is how we were able to. But, we still had to follow some rules to travel to Canada.
- Negative PCR test with a Fit-to-Fly certificate done within 72 hours before flight departure.
- Info for your plan to quarentine at your final destination.
- Book and prepay for your manadtory 3 night quarantine hotel stay. You can only do this once your flight is booked and its two weeks before said flight.
- Pre register for you arrival test via Switch Health. This is basically just making your account with them so you don’t have to do it on arrival. It will be quicker for you once you land in Canada if you do this before your flight.
- Install the ARRIVEcan app and fill out your travel details within 72 hours of your flight.
Right now you can only fly into 4 designated airports in Canada; Toronto Pearson, Calgary International, Montreal Trudea, or Vancouver International. We flew into Toronto.
On arrival into Canada you must quarantine for 3 nights in a government mandated hotel, until your Covid test done on arrival comes back negative. Once you have a negative test result you can carry on to your final destination where you have to carry out the rest of your 14 day quarantine.
There are a lot of people out there who don’t agree with the hotel quarantine, and a lot of people who have had “very negative” experiences with it. We can’t speak for them but personally we understand the need for hotel quarantine and we had a pretty decent experience.
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza and would actually highly recommend it. There are plenty of options to choose from but we just chose the cheapest option we could find that looked to have decent windows for some natural light, considering we’d be stuck in the room for 3 days.
We booked their King bed, newly renovated standard room. It was clean, super spacious, with a couch, a nice large window that even had a small bit that opened for fresh air, the bed was super comfy and I was even able to request extra pillows, the bathroom was standard and basic but clean and the shower was really nice, and finally the TV was huge and 4K which was a nice change from your averge hotel TV. All in all we had a really comfortable stay.
We were fed 3 meals a day. They were all hot meals (even breakfast) that actually arrived hot, although we were only on the 2nd floor so I think we got our meals first, so I can’t say if they were still hot when they reached the 9th floor.
We were actually really pleasantly surprised by the meals. They had both vegetarian and meat meals, we never asked if they had full vegan meals, we just always got the vegetarian, but some of them we think were vegan anyway. And after asking they even brought me some soy milk for my coffee (yay!).
Each meal we were also given a bag of extras. Breakfast each time came with a bottle of orange juice, an apple or a banana, condoments for whatever was for breakfast (jam, butter, maple syrup, etc) and cutlery with salt and pepper
Lunch was a bottle of water (which we never actually drank because the tap water in Canada is absolutely fine), a bag of crisps or an apple, and cutlery with salt and pepper.
Dinner was another bottle of water, a simple salad with salad dressing, a pre packaged square/cake of some sort (this wasn’t great, we didn’t eat it) and cutlery again with salt and pepper.
One massive down side to it all was there was A LOT of plastic! The hot portion of the meals came in plastic takeaway containers, the cutlery was plastic, and then the bottled water. Obviously things need to come in disposable things because of covid but we just wish they could have found a different way to package things, which is entirely possible. Plastic is just laziness really.
They even allowed us to order from Skip the Dishes/Uber Eats/Deliveroo etc. Which we did a couple times. Things were just left with either the front desk or security and then left outside our door for us.
All in all our experience was really good, and we don’t have any complaints about the Crowne Plaza as far as quarantine goes.
After our 3 night stay at our quarantine hotel, and with our negative results from our arrival test, we were free to carry on to our final destination.
Two things that we found pretty strange and very “unsafe” after everything we just had to do to get into Canada was that,
- The hotel never checked to make sure our results came and that they were negative.
- We never had to show a negative test result to get onto our flight from Toronto to Winnipeg.
Considering the amount of money we had to spend and fuss they made for us coming into the country, it would have been pretty easy for us to ignore most of the rules once we actually landed in Canada. Forunately we’re pretty honest people so we followed the rules to a T, but they can’t expect everyone to be, and we all know there are people out there who won’t, given the chance.
For the rest of our quarantine we’ve been staying in my parents basement. Our orginial plan was to stay in their RV but the weather in Manitoba this time of year is ridiculously hot, and being 7 months pregnant it was just too hot for me to sleep comfortably (not that sleeping comfortably in even a thing at this point in the pregnancy).
At the airport, right after you do your arrival Covid test, you’re given your at home test kit that you have to do on Day 8 of your quaratine.
All the tests are done through Switch Health. This is where you’ll get your results and where you’ll do your Day 8 at home test with a health care consultant via video chat. We were given an appointment time via email but you can do your test anytime on Day 8, you just have to register your test kit and then wait in the online queue for one of their health care team members to video chat with you and watch you do the test. When we logged on we were 300 and something in the queue but it actually moves pretty fast, so don’t worry.
After you’ve completed the test you’ll be directed to the Switch Health website to schedule a time for Purolator to pick your test up from your place of quarantine. Our test was picked up on a Monday morning and Will got his results back on Wednesday evening. So the turn around it actually quite quick.
If they haven’t lost your test kit that is.
Yup, unfortunately our personal experience with Switch Health hasn’t been the greatest. On wednesday, Will’s test came back and mine didn’t. We did the test together, the Switch Health person who did our video chat supposedly “registered” both of our tests, and they were picked up together by Purolator.
We have no idea what happened to my test kit, whether or not it got lost on the way to the lab, or if their lab lost it, or they did say the lab might not have been able to connect the test sample to my Switch Health account. We’ll never know, and there was supposedly nothing they could do about it but send me a new test kit.
This meant both Will and I had to stay in quarantine until I got a negative test result. It took about a day and a half to have a new test sent out, then another few days to actually get the test. I got my new test kit on a Tuesday, I did it that day, sent it off the next day (wednesday) and came back Friday afternoon.
It was Days 21 of quarantine. Needless to say we are going stir crazy!
So our advice to you is to make sure you take a photo of the code on your test kit tube, and the Purolator code on the parcel before you send it off. It might help you out if the same issue happens.
In all honesty, the whole process of coming back to Canada during this pandemic was pretty straight forward and went pretty smoothly for us. Obviously it was NOT cheap, but the requirements were easy to find online and follow.
The flight felt safe, the hotel was great, using the ARRIVEcan app was straightforward, and so was the Switch Health website. If it wasn’t for the issue with my home test kit, the whole quarantine experience would have been really good.
Our personal overal cost of coming to Canada is as follows (obviously things may differ for others depending on flight prices and choice of hotel):
- PRC Test with a Fit-to-Fly certificates = £80 each, with ExpressTest
- Flight from London to Toronto = $445 CAN each, with WestJet.
- 3 Night Government Mandated quarantine hotel = $1427 CAN for double occupancy, we stayed at the Crowne Plaza.
- Flight to final destination = $375 CAN each, with WestJet (flights usually aren’t this pricey but I think they’re higher because of closed provincial boarders)
- 11 Day quarantine location = Free, because we’re staying at my parents place.
TOTAL for two people to enter Canada: £1760/$3,067 CAD plus £160/$280 CAD for the pre flight PRC tests.