Flights between Canada and sun destinations will be suspended until April 30 | Coronavirus

At a press conference, the Canadian Prime Minister affirmed that the problem of vacationers will be partly resolved at the source, since Sunwing, Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat have agreed to suspend all their flights to the Caribbean and Mexico on Sunday, until April 30.

Less than 2% of COVID-19 cases are linked to returning Canadians. […] However […] even one case is one too many, especially given that now we have to take into account the new variants of the virus.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

All travelers arriving from other international destinations will soon have to undergo a mandatory test for COVID-19 upon arrival at one or other of the airports that can still accommodate them, namely those in Vancouver. , Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.

While waiting for the result of this PCR test, these travelers will have to be accommodated in one or other of the hotels designated by the government. The cost of the test, which will be carried out by a private company, and the cost of these two or three days of accommodation will be borne by the travelers. They are estimated at $ 2,000, said Trudeau.

According to Transport Canada, there will only be some rare exceptions to these rules.

Travelers who test negative will be able to continue their quarantine at home, but will be subject to a increased surveillance federal government, added the Prime Minister.

Those who test positive will have to continue their quarantine at a public health center, at government expense, this time. to make sure they are not carrying a new variant of the virus.

The cost of the private screening test and the three nights that must be [être] booked at the hotel in advance runs around $ 2000. Obviously, if after two days there is a negative result, they will be able to go home.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Additional measures

Federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair points out that the costs of quarantine go beyond the usual accommodation expenses.

Bill Blair with a headset on his right ear, in front of the flags of Canada.

Federal Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair

Photo: The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld

There will be costs to protect the people who work in these hotels, he said. There will also be safety and health measures, and we have to think about transport.

We do not believe that Canadian taxpayers should bear the costs of these measures for those who choose to take non-essential travel.

Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety

However, the Prime Minister was not able to say from what date this mandatory test on returning from a trip abroad will be required. It will be done as soon as possible in February, he said.

This test is in addition to the mandatory screening test required on boarding for several weeks, which must be carried out no later than 72 hours before the flight.

According to the Prime Minister, the government workforce to monitor compliance with quarantines has also been doubled and contracts have been awarded to private security firms.

In addition to these tests, travelers will have to undergo one on the 10th day of quarantine upon returning from their stay, explained Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam.

Theresa Tam, at a press conference.

Chief Executive Officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, at a press conference Tuesday in Ottawa

Photo: The Canadian Press / Justin Tang

This will allow us to do another test in case someone has a longer incubation period for the virus than the others, Tam said. We will be able to take care of him before the end of his quarantine and keep him in confinement. [si son résultat s’avère positif].

Whether you are pursuing a quarantine at a government site or at home, you will need to take the 10th day test.

Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer

Justin Trudeau has also indicated that Canadians or permanent residents returning to the country by land will also have to present a negative screening test. This will be implemented over the next few weeks, he said without further details.

We are very concerned about the potential arrival of variants of this virus. We saw it in the case of Barrie, in Ontario, a case of this virus can easily spread in institutions, in a community, and therefore, we must do everything to prevent the arrival of the variants.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Asked about the decision to keep Florida among the destinations offered, where many Canadians go to soak up the sun, Federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra stressed that the government did not ban any destination.

We are asking Canadians to cancel their flights, not just to Mexico, but to any destination, said Mr. Alghabra. We have come to an agreement with the airlines that it is better to cancel flights to the Caribbean and Mexico, because these are the most popular destinations for Canadian vacationers.

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra.

Federal Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra

Photo: The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld

As for Canadians who decide to ignore the recommendations of the government and health authorities by heading for Florida or any other vacation destination, they will be subject to new measures of COVID-19 screening tests and mandatory quarantine in hotel and home.

Either way, Canadians abroad will have to forget about Ottawa’s help to get them back home. The President of the Treasury Board and Member of Parliament for Quebec, Jean-Yves Duclos, recalled Friday that his government had already warned travelers of the risks associated with international travel.

People have known for a long time that he was and continues to be discouraged from leaving the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been very clear on this. There is no question of carrying out operations [gouvernementales] repatriation.

Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board

Travelers will therefore have to come to an agreement directly with their air carrier or travel agency. Air Canada and WestJet have already committed to setting up contingency plans, as has Air Transat, which has suspended all of its regular operations for three months.

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No aid announced for airlines

Despite these decisions, which have a considerable influence on the airline industry, already severely weakened by the pandemic, the Prime Minister could not say precisely what he intends to do to enable him to get through the crisis.

We have very good discussions with the airlines. We recognize how important it is for Canada to have a healthy, competitive aviation sector […] once we have gone through this pandemic. And we’ll be there to support the airlines, he just said.

The Trudeau government has been hovering for days about the possibility of new measures to discourage Canadians from taking non-essential travel. The latter have been officially discouraged since March 2020, but they are not prohibited either.

The Premier of Quebec, François Legault, had notably asked Ottawa on several occasions to ban non-essential international flights or, at the very least, to force travelers to carry out their mandatory quarantine, at their expense, in a designated hotel. and supervised.

Prime Minister Legault gesticulates at a press conference.

Prime Minister François Legault has been calling for Justin Trudeau’s intervention in this matter for weeks.

Photo: Radio-Canada

On Friday, the Deputy Prime Minister of Quebec, Geneviève Guilbault, hailed a “very positive” and “satisfactory” decision on the part of the Trudeau government.

Ontario, for its part, will force international travelers to take a drug test upon arrival at Toronto Pearson Airport as early as next week, without waiting for the federal program to be in place, the Premier said. Doug Ford, Friday afternoon.

Trudeau is too late, judges the opposition

In Ottawa, the Conservatives and the Bloc are unanimous in saying that the Trudeau government has dragged its feet on this issue.

Conservatives have always encouraged Canadians to follow federal and provincial public health guidelines, and we were the first to urge the government to protect the border at the start of the pandemic., supported by press release the head of PCC Erin O’Toole Friday. The Liberals were slow to do it.

We have been in a pandemic for a year now and we are not using the lessons learned from the first wave.

Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

It’s too little and too late for Justin Trudeau, once again, agreed the Bloc spokesman for Transport Xavier Barsalou-Duval.

According to the member for Pierre-Boucher — Les Patriotes — Verchères, the Prime Minister too late to close the borders in March; he waited until January 29 to cancel the holiday flights; and he waited until the British variant of the virus was implanted in Canada before adequately monitoring the quarantines.

It’s always a late shot, he concluded.

Janelle B. Smith

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