Canadian Airline Calls For Overhaul Of Current COVID Restrictions
The Canadian Airline WestJet has confirmed it will be extending its schedule reductions into March because of current COVID restrictions affecting the country. The cancellations are set to impact 20% of all scheduled March flights.
All impacted travelers will be notified well in advance via email to help avoid any problems with rescheduling. The airline does offer refunds and change fee waivers for situations such as this.
The announcement came from WestJet’s own website in the form of a scathing critique of the Canadian Government’s COVID response. In fact, the statement regarding the cancelations took up only two lines of the entire message, leaving the rest to vent frustration at the apparent disproportionate impact of COVID restrictions on the airline industry.
The airline is aware of the quickly changing COVID climate which is seeing other countries strip away restrictions in an attempt to move forward from the pandemic. The UK, for example, has just announced the removal of all COVID restrictions including the necessity to self-isolate after testing positive.
As the rest of the world moves forward, the airline understandably feels like Canada is being left behind, and the companies most heavily impacted are feeling the economic pinch.
WestJet CEO, Harry Taylor, stated “Travel advisories, restrictions and testing requirements were meant to be temporary, yet our industry has now reached an impasse that is severely impacting the recovery of our airline and sector. The time is now to present a path forward that is in line with our global counterparts, reflective of current data, and once again make travel accessible and affordable for Canadians.”
Currently, anyone entering Canada from abroad must show proof of vaccination or recent recovery from COVID. The big drawback for many travelers or those returning home is the possibility of two PCR tests. A negative result from a PCR test is required before traveling to Canada, and passengers are warned to expect a test on arrival as well. These tests are not guaranteed if the traveler is coming from the US but, if selected, the traveler must quarantine until a negative result is returned.
If a positive result is returned, a full ten-day quarantine is expected. This is another source of frustration for the Canadian tourism sector. Once again, comparative rules in other countries have seen quarantine periods slashed to five days in many cases.
The price of COVID tests alone is a tough variable for many families to deal with. Depending on the cost in some countries and upon reentry, a family of four could be paying hundreds of dollars for a test. Tests aren’t always easy to come by in the US, especially since Rapid antigen tests are not accepted by the Canadian authorities.
The company also stated “Canada remains the only country among the G7 nations to still require mandatory pre-departure and on-arrival PCR testing. Countries across the globe are recognizing the importance of travel and tourism on economic recovery and we are witnessing them take measures to safely re-open their borders and make sensible adjustments to overall travel guidance and testing requirements. It is disappointing that Canada remains stagnant in its approach and continues to make travel inaccessible and punitive for Canadians and inbound tourists.”
It’s a tough week for Canada, which has seen many of its major cities rattled by massive protests regarding vaccine mandates. The government does not appear to be budging on its current regulations, though. It’s unclear how much longer the current system will continue, as tourists will not feel comfortable traveling to what is usually an incredibly popular country. Many other options for tourists with significantly fewer tourist restrictions will seem much more appealing.
It remains to be seen if things will look up for tourism in Canada anytime soon. Until then, tourists are likely to look elsewhere. The EU is looking promising for visitors despite their booster requirements, and Australia will be working hard to repair any damage done to its tourist economy after announcing the removal of some of the strictest COVID requirements in the world.
Anyone hoping to travel to Canada soon should keep on top of any changes to restrictions to ensure they are not blindsided by any surprises at the border.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories