Airline and hospitality industry grins again as new border rules crack down on travel – again
Canada’s travel and hospitality industry has been rocked by the federal government warning of non-essential overseas travel due to the alarming number of COVID-19 cases.
WestJet CEO Harry Taylor spoke out against the advice, predicting it would create “unnecessary disruption and chaos” ahead of the holiday travel season.
“Fully immunized Canadians should not be honored for choosing to participate in a safe activity,” Taylor said in a statement.
“Travel bans, restrictions and general advisories are devastating to the country’s continued economic recovery and endanger tens of thousands of recently recalled Canadian jobs in travel and tourism.”
He also asserted that the government’s warning was “not based on science and data”, adding that Canada’s travel measures did not match the border policies of the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom. United States. He calls on the government to publicly share the COVID-19 data that informed Wednesday’s notice.
WATCH | Travel advisory “not based on science,” says WestJet director:
His statement came after a press conference in Ottawa where Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the Omicron variant is now spreading in Canadian communities and across the world, prompting a new notice within two months. after lifting the old one.
Duclos said the situation had become more complicated at a rate he “could not have imagined” a few weeks ago.
“To those who are planning to travel, I am saying very clearly, now is not the time to travel,” he said on Wednesday.
“I know it’s difficult for airlines, for travel agencies, for families, for people who haven’t been able to see each other for a long time,” Duclos added in French.
He would not give advice on domestic travel, adding that all travel restrictions in Canada will come from provincial governments, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Canadians to be careful when making their travel plans.
“I understand that sucks,” Trudeau said Wednesday. “The reality is Omicron is here in Canada, and we need to reduce community spread.”
Airline customers have canceled reservations by the thousands, said Air Transport Association of Canada CEO John McKenna.
âThey’re canceling because they don’t know what to expect when they come back,â he said in an interview.
“I think they are more afraid of the bureaucracy than of Omicron.”
A drop in international travel will likely lead to a slowdown in regional travel, as the two feed off each other, and anxiety over the highly transmissible strain will further discourage domestic travel, he said.
Federal ministers warned on Wednesday that other border measures could still be underway and did not rule out the possibility of reinstating the requirement for travelers who leave the country for less than 72 hours to take a COVID molecular test. -19 in order to return to the country.
Currently, Canada has banned all foreign nationals who have visited 10 specific African countries in the past 14 days from entering the country to counter the threat of importing Omicron cases. This policy should be reconsidered, the director of public health Dr. Theresa Tam said on Wednesday. Duclos has hinted that the government may soon “clarify” this policy.
“We give our best advice. At the end of the day, the decision-makers make their decisions,” added Tam MP Dr Howard Njoo.
Positivity rate less than 1%
The positivity rate among fully vaccinated travelers arriving by air was 0.17% the week of November 14 to 20 and 0.00% the following week, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Land arrivals have comparable figures.
“That was the promise behind the vaccination mandate and the promise behind the testing,” WestJet vice president of government relations Andy Gibbons said in a telephone interview.
“If we go back to 14 day quarantines or general policies, then we are reversing that progress.” “
He noted that virtually no activity outside of international travel requires proof of a negative molecular test of fully vaccinated individuals.
Confusion around travel measures and changing federal and provincial government rules and guidelines also remains an issue, Gibbons added.
The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies said the new advisory will have a “devastating impact” on its 14,000 agents, who depend on vacation travel to boost their business.
The trade group urges Ottawa to communicate border notices and actions clearly and quickly on one website and to work more closely with industry.
About 87 percent of Canadians aged 12 and over are fully immunized, and airport testing is also intensifying.
Travel insurance plans continue to cover costs related to COVID-19 at no additional cost and with virtually no spending limits if a traveler ends up in hospital, said Marty Firestone, president of Travel Secure, a Toronto-based company specializing in travel insurance.
âThe insurers themselves tell you they see little riskâ¦ if you are fully vaccinated,â he said.