What essential and non-essential travel means during coronavirus

May 4 2020, 8:20 am

As COVID-19 closes borders and inhibits any kind of travel, Red Arrow is offering information and support for the many Canadians who still need to move — whether than means commuting to frontline jobs or getting home after being stranded abroad.

The Albertan bus company, whose sister company Ebus also provides service in both Alberta and British Columbia, has suspended their services in order to help flatten the curve and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For over 40 years, Red Arrow has been getting passengers Safely Home, but now they’re asking everyone to join them as they #StaySafelyHome.

According to the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA), essential travel currently only includes travelling for work, study, economic and supply chains, critical infrastructure support, health, safety, and security, and shopping for essential goods.

Non-essential travel includes attending anything for tourism, recreation, and entertainment purposes.

If you absolutely must travel for the above essential purposes, Red Arrow reminds you that you must follow federal and provincial government recommendations, which are constantly being updated.

Note: As of March 25, Albertans are legally required under public health order to self-isolate for:

  • 14 days if they returned from travel outside Canada or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19
  • 10 days if they have any COVID-19 any symptoms which are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition: cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat


Some bus operators that continue to provide essential travel services have gone to extra lengths to make sure your journeys are as clean as possible. These include stringent cleaning protocols, screening passengers for illness and recent international travel, limiting the amount of passengers on board (one passenger for every row), and implementing social distancing.

Prior to fully suspending operations, Red Arrow encouraged social distancing in both of its offices, for passengers embarking and disembarking, and for drivers loading and unloading luggage.

For bus travel right now, ask about extra cleaning protocols, how passengers are screened, and what their social distancing policy is.

Private vehicles

Only you and your immediate family members or members of your household who will be self-isolating with you should be riding with you in a private vehicle. Cleanliness of your car is crucial, and passengers should take extra precautions to clean door handles, steering wheel, gears, buttons, consoles, cupholders, and mirrors  — all surfaces that could carry a virus.

Make sure that you bring plenty of hand sanitizer and tissues and have somewhere in your car to safely put your garbage.

Car rentals

As of April, car rental services fall into the essential services category as they support critical transportation and personal mobility needs. Measures in response to coronavirus include social distancing in offices, enhanced cleaning protocols, curbside delivery of cars, and amended cancellation policies, among others.

Do your research on the company, travel with appropriate cleaning supplies, and thoroughly clean all surfaces every time you get in the vehicle.


Public transit, including inter-city commuter transit, is an important service for many people employed in essential roles. To keep passengers safe, local transit operations have implemented enhanced cleaning measures, introduced rear-door boarding for the safety of customers and drivers, and are limiting the number of people on board to support social distancing.

Be aware of and comply with all rules, sit at least two metres away from fellow passengers, and avoid touching surfaces.


There are many, many rules and restrictions in place regarding air travel in Canada, both domestically and overseas. Speak to your travel company when planning your route home and, as with any essential travel, follow the government’s advice and guidelines when leaving your home.

Red Arrow has everyone’s health and safety top of mind and encourages Albertans to stay safely home during this unique time.

If you do need to travel for essential purposes, Red Arrow hopes this “know before you go” guide helps you make smart decisions so that you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe, reduce the risk of infection, and help flatten the curve.

Once it is safe to do so, Red Arrow and Ebus will start up again so that you can visit friends and family, do some exploring, and get back to enjoying travel.

Read Red Arrow’s full article on Essential Travel here, or learn more about their #StaySafelyHome campaign.

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