Statistics Canada says that more than 170,000 Canadians flew home after travelling abroad in December of 2020, CTV News reports.
According to Statistics Canada, that is an over 33 percent increase from November, but is over 90 percent below levels from December of 2019. About one third of the travelers were returning from the United States.
They noted that the number of international travelers has been steadily increasing since April.
The agency also noted that 271,000 Canadians travelled to the United States for various reasons in December, similarly down 90 percent from the previous year.
The numbers come in spite of travel restrictions and warnings issued by the Canadian government in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
While some major airports are still open to travelers during the pandemic, the border between the United States and Canada has remained closed to non-essential travelers since March.
The Canadian government has since implemented stricter guidelines surrounding international travel. Under new regulations, those arriving in Canada from abroad are forced to quarantine in hotels for three days upon arrival in the country.
The forced quarantine in hotels has been heavily criticized by conservatives and civil libertarians, who have argued that it amounts to forced, arbitrary detention without trial. Many have also questioned why the returnees cannot quarantine in their homes.
Another criticism of the rule surrounds the requirement for travelers arriving in Canada to pay for their own hotel stays even when they have a house to quarantine in. Refugees arriving in Canada have their hotel stays paid for by Canadian taxpayers, however.