Sunday, January 29, 2023

COVID travel: Trudeau defends extension of border restrictions


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is defending the recent extension of COVID-19 border restrictions, saying the decision is “anchored in science” as representatives from the travel and tourism sector gather in Ottawa to demand relief.

Trudeau said Canada is still in the midst of a pandemic and lifting restrictions – such as requiring foreign tourists to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination upon entry — too soon could cause worse outcomes for the travel sector.

“The reality is, as much as people would like to pretend we’re not, we’re still in a pandemic. There are Canadians who die every single day because of COVID-19,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“I know people are eager to get back to things we love but what will also further damage our tourism industry is if we get another wave.”

Industry groups held a press conference later Wednesday, calling on the federal government to alleviate travel pain points, such as long lineups and delays, in time for the summer travel season.

“We did our part to keep Canadians safe and now it is finally our turn to recover. Travel is back with a vengeance and we could not be happier but the passenger experience at our Canadian airports is a challenge,” said Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada.

Interim Canadian Airports Council President Monette Pasher said while the organization welcomes the government’s steps to increase Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) staffing levels, more must be done.

“We’re urging the federal government to take three concrete actions in the short term to immediately alleviate pressure on the system. They include: removing onsite mandatory testing from Canada’s airports, removing the Public Health Agency of Canada’s duplicate health check questions at government custom checkpoints and at the international border and removing vaccination mandates for CATSA and CBSA workers,” she said.

On Tuesday, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that border rules would be extended until at least June 30.

Foreign tourists will continue to be required to provide proof of being fully vaccinated, and unvaccinated Canadian citizens or permanent residents are also still required to show proof of a molecular COVID-19 test taken prior to entering Canada and quarantine for 14 days.

All travellers coming to Canada, regardless of citizenship, must also continue to submit their health information through the ArriveCAN app prior to entry.

Randomized testing for the fully vaccinated also remains in place.

The border rules extension came a day after Parliament voted down a Conservative motion to revert back to pre-pandemic travel guidelines for travel.

With a file from’s Tom Yun

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The Editor

The Editor

I am the Co-Publisher of "The Native Press".