Sacrificing the Travel Industry

February 22, 2021

Dr. J. Gateman

Today, February 22, 2021, new restrictions came into effect in Canadian airports.  These are some of the most stringent restrictions globally but are offering little actual security to Canadians.


Despite having to have a 72 hour old negative Co-vid test to enter the country, there are additional items; travellers must take a covid arrival test and pay for a three-day stay in a "Co-vid" hotel.  People say, "It's just a hotel stay; get over it.  Want to travel, then pay the price." However, this "hotel stay" does not allow you to order food from outside or even choose what you receive for meals.  They will serve no food after 6 pm or before 7 am.  You may not leave your room; no exercise room, pool access or the ability to go outside.  You are presumed sick until you are proven healthy.


If you quarantine in your home because you have tested positive inside Canada, you can have family drop off food, order from the local restaurant, Uber Eat/Skip the Dishes, etc.  But because you had to use an airplane (the only route in or out of the country available right now), you are not allowed this privilege?  Does this seem reasonable?


And does it make you feel safer?  Think about this.  Seventy-two hours in advance, you must get a Covid test. Then you go back to your business meeting, health facility, hotel, etc. So, no guarantees that you will not become affected in those three days.  Then you get on a plane crammed with other people to get a test when you land and then must wait three more days for results.  Why not use the rapid tests and test people before they get on the plane - you'd have their results before they leave but certainly before they arrive, and the results would be as current as possible?  You get people back to work faster, assure Canadians are not accidentally spread a virus and keep a vital wing of the Canadian economy moving.
Through the four airports that are accepting international flights, people returning into Canada have said they were travelling for some type of purpose other than a vacation; funerals, illness, business meetings, etc.  But there are reports of people being scolded by health care representatives, "No one should be travelling during a pandemic.". 


Travelling for business, medical treatments, family emergencies, or saying goodbye to a loved one is now being decided as acceptable by whom?  Who gets to make that call?


What is the purpose behind having these protocols?  The Prime Minister says that he is worried about the transmission of the variant coming into Canada. That is assuming the virus will not mutate here in Canada; that is what viruses do.  He says that he hears people are not quarantining.  If that is the case, why not put ankle bracelets on them, have IPP check-in locations registered, have a visit or phone call go out to them?  Are there not better ways to ensure people quarantine than depriving them of their homes and adding expense to their trips?  Trudeau says this is not a penalty for travelling, but it certainly seems that way with the other choices he possibly could have made.


The airlines have some of the best contact tracing available, and if you look at the numbers of cases coming from air travel, they are resulting in 1.04% of the cases. However, instead of being rewarded for good tracing, it has been used against them to shut the industry down. There is no tracing at the mall, Costco, Walmart, etc.


If you take the WHO announcement of PCR cycles too high and causing possibly 60% false positives, this number drops even lower.  We have sacrificed an entire industry for less than .6% of cases!  Focussing on this 1% rather than the other 99% of cases seems irresponsible, both fiscally and socially.


The government has caused ticket agents, flight attendants, baggage handlers, mechanics, pilots, hotel staff, restaurant employees, and more to lose their jobs.  Jobs that do not appear back on-line instantaneously. Pilots must recertify, airlines must keep up with lease payments, people taking other jobs to make it through - take time to come back, routes need re-establishing. It will take months, if not years, for the airlines to approach full flight offerings again.


The draconian measures that have shut this section of the economy down are a full violation of the Citizen's Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  You can not deprive Canadian citizens of their homes or properties.  Nor can you prevent them from coming back into their country.  As Mr. Truedeau says, "I can't prevent people from coming back into the country, but I can make it more difficult." 


Our Prime Minister can not deliver on his vaccine promises, but he can succeed in making Canadians feel like criminals for returning to their home country.  

©2021 Dr. J. Gateman