Spring break, relaxed COVID rules mean busy week for travel

Vancouver International Airport is expecting its busiest week since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic this week, as relaxed restrictions and pandemic fatigue inspire travelers to take vacations while schools are on spring break.

YVR expects to see 37,000 people pass through per day this week, a significant increase from the 6,500 per day seen at this time last year, when BC was still dealing with the Alpha and Gamma variants that drove the pandemic’s third wave.

Before COVID, BC’s largest airport saw 66,000 passengers per day during spring break, according to YVR spokesperson Alyssa Smith.

“We’re slowly but surely creeping back up to those pre-pandemic numbers,” Smith told CTV News on Friday.

Among those passing through the airport on Friday were a young family going back to New Zealand for the first time in two years and another family going to visit relatives in Mexico City.

Many of those CTV News spoke with said they are just now starting to feel comfortable with air travel again, as provincial governments end most COVID-related restrictions and the federal government relaxes testing requirements and travel advisories.

“We’re ready to welcome back passengers,” Smith said. “We’ve been ready throughout the pandemic. We’re really hopeful with what we’re seeing not only from passengers booking travel, but also the support that we’re seeing from government as well – in terms of easing some of those travel measures.”

Smith said both domestic and international departures are on the rise, but travel within Canada has been more popular lately.

While the rules around COVID-19 have been loosened, there are still lots of considerations that travelers must be aware of before they fly.

Though BC has ended its mask mandate for indoor public spaces, YVR is under federal jurisdiction, and masks are still required in the terminal and on all flights.

Proof of vaccination is required for domestic travel, and those traveling internationally need to show proof of a negative rapid test taken within a day of their return flight to Canada.

Other countries also have their own testing and vaccination rules for travellers, and Smith advises everyone traveling to familiarize themselves with the requirements for their trip and be prepared.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Travis Prasad

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