Air Canada has come under fire for appearing to use social media influencers to promote travel to destinations outside of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While there currently isn't a law against travel outside of Canada during the pandemic, the federal government says you should avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
Further, provincial governments across the country have enacted their own travel advisories. Health officials, including Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix in B.C., continue to encourage locals to stay in their communities and stress that doing so will help to slow the spread of COVID-19.
If you choose to travel despite these advisories, the Government of Canada highlights that:
- you may have difficulty obtaining essential products and services
- you may have limited access to timely and appropriate health care
- you may suddenly face strict movement restrictions and quarantines at designated facilities and at your own cost
- your insurance may not cover your travel or medical expenses
- we may have limited capacity to offer you consular services.
"Currently quarantining" after a tropical vacation
Despite this, Air Canada continues to inspire "wanderlust" through its social media channels, with the notable assistance of influencers. Most recently, Air Canada Vacations shared an image of Canadian influencer Tiffany Lai, who says she is "currently quarantining" after a vacation in Curaçao.
Canada's largest airline captions: "She looks like she’s having an amazing time!"
In her own post, Lai mentions that "I’ve partnered up with @aircanadavacations and @dreamsresort to show a safe and cautious way of travelling for 2021. Each country has different regulations, and we felt incredibly lucky and safe to be able to travel to Curaçao because of their extreme covid-19 safety and travel regulations."
In another instance, an influencer explains in a video how she is going to show her audience what it is like to travel right now, as well as to stay in a resort. Her travel companion is featured in the background dancing.
Politicians weren't the only ones to leave the country over the holidays. So did social media influencers, hired by @AirCanadaVac. Instagram posts show trips "in partnership" w/ Air Canada Vacations. This is despite guidelines not to travel unless you have to. @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/a6bsnDEeCL— Monika Gul (@MonikaGul) January 6, 2021
To "explain our safety measures"
When asked whether Air Canada is using influencers to promote foreign destinations right now, a spokesperson for the airline tells Vancouver Is Awesome in an email that "Like most businesses, we use the media to promote our products and services. We sometimes use influencers on social networks as part of our larger marketing efforts and to reach audiences that traditional media do not penetrate."
The spokesperson adds that the airline has recently been engaging influencers to "explain our safety measures, implemented early on during pandemic, including our comprehensive CleanCare+ health and safety program, which allows our customers and employees to travel in complete confidence and responsibly, always according to current regulations."
In a recent post, Air Canada Vacations also shares an experience that one of its employees had while vacationing at the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres in Mexico. He writes, "It's such a unique experience to travel right now as hotel occupancies are kept low to maintain social distancing.
"You really feel like you're living in a palace”
Canada's new COVID-19 travel requirements
Today, Transport Minister Marc Garneau issued an Interim Order formalizing the new COVID-19 testing requirements for all air travellers coming into Canada.
Effective midnight (E.S.T.) on Jan. 7, 2021, regardless of citizenship, all travellers five years of age or older must provide proof of a negative laboratory test result for COVID-19 to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using one of two types of COVID-19 tests–either a molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP)–and must be conducted within 72 hours of the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.
All travellers coming to Canada must present this information at the time of boarding. Failure to do so will mean an automatic denial of boarding by the airline operating the flight to Canada.
No quarantine exemptions
Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine, unless exempted under the Quarantine Act. Travellers are reminded that ongoing vigilance is still required. In addition to completing their full quarantine period, returning travellers must monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and submit information electronically through ArriveCAN. If symptoms develop, even if mild, or a positive test for COVID-19 is received once in Canada, travellers are advised to contact local public health authorities.