‘Travel is not the big bad monster’: Coalition calling on feds to update travel rules

By Germain Ma

A Canadian coalition of travel and tourism groups are asking the federal government to update its COVID-19 travel measures.

The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable wants Canada to focus testing at community levels through bringing back randomized on-arrival PCR tests and using them for surveillance.

It says current measures effectively test negative travellers twice.

International travellers coming into Canada from outside the United States are required to show a negative PCR test before entry, and then, another negative test result on arrival.

If test results take time to come back, travellers need to isolate.

These measures were put in place at a time when the country was trying to prevent the Omicron variant from spreading inside its borders.

Now, there is rapid Omicron spread.

“The tourism and travel industry has been so incredibly hard hit throughout the last 22 months and it's time. It's time to follow the lead of our partners in the G7 and the G20 and start to open up to travel again,” said Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada while on the Mike Farwell Show on CityNews 570 on Wednesday. 

She said the industry has lost over 400,000 jobs and will have a really hard time getting workers to return to an industry that continues to be hard-hit by closures and restrictions.

PCR testing capacity is currently overwhelmed, and the Roundtable says it should be focused on protecting frontline workers and supporting in-person learning for children.

“If folks in the community can't get a PCR test, then it's difficult for them to track, and if want to travel in the future, they're not going to have the proof that they've had COVID,” Potter said.

Travellers, who show a positive test result at least 15, and not more than 180 days before coming into Canada are exempt from arrival testing.

Potter said at it's height, travel was responsible for around three per cent of COVID-19 spread in the country, and now, the figure is one per cent.

She said, “Let's follow the data and the data is telling us that travel is not the big, bad monster that everybody seems to think that it might be. We can actually move around the country, and we can welcome international visitors into our country and keep the mitigation of the spread of the virus very low.”


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