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Coronavirus: Canadians’ March break travel plans affected by COVID-19 outbreak

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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.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Trudeau to announce federal funding to deal with COVID-19 outbreak

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.

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.

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