Together with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable ("The Roundtable"), medical and local business leaders have come together to call on the federal government to remove pre-departure testing entirely for fully vaccinated travellers on or before April 1st when the regulations will be updated. Continued testing targeted at solely the travel sector is both unnecessary and not rooted in science.
While the federal government took a step in the right direction by altering the testing regime around travel, its decision to allow the use of rapid antigen tests for pre-depature, which takes effect today, is not grounded in science or evidence. The travel and tourism sector continues to be the only industry subject to mandatory testing, despite being safer than many everyday domestic activities.
"Whether it be PCR or rapid antigen testing, COVID-19 testing at the border does not make sense. Travel is no riskier than many other domestic activities, and there is no scientific reason to single it out," said Dr Chagla, an Infectious Diseases Physician and Associate Professor at McMaster University. "The federal government's outdated travel policies are unnecessarily stranding Canadians abroad, leading to travel delays, financial penalties, and potentially hazardous quarantine locations," stated Dr Chagla.
Canada's current COVID-19 travel restrictions are obsolete and out of step with countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Denmark, which have removed all testing requirements at their respective borders for fully vaccinated travellers.
"After two years, Canadians are once again looking forward to heading south for March Break, yet despite many assurances barriers to travel remain in place," said Richard Bartrem, Vice President of Communications at WestJet. "We are seeing other major nations make travel accessible and affordable while Canada continues to lag behind its global counterparts. Canadian travellers are fully-vaccinated and should no longer be subject to out-of-pocket testing expenses and outdated measures when returning home," finished Mr. Bartrem.
"The tourism industry has been one of the hardest-hit in sectors in the pandemic. Our once-bustling hotel is hanging on by a thread. Simply replacing the PCR test with an antigen test has not positively impacted bookings. We are urgently looking to the federal government for predictability and travel rules based on science," said Leanne Shaw, General Manager, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Calgary Airport. "The federal government has acknowledged that we are in a different phase of pandemic management. Canada's travel rules should reflect this. It's time to do away with pre-departure COVID-19 testing so that we have a shot at saving our summer," finished Ms. Shaw.
"Last week's announcement by the federal government on PCR testing did not go far enough. My travel agency continues to see cancellation after cancellation. Confusion around the rules and fear of getting stuck abroad has established an environment of uncertainty for travellers. It's time for Canada's travel rules to keep up with developments in science," said Lesley Keyter of South Travel. "Canada's travel industry is hurting, many businesses are on the brink of collapse, it's time for the federal government to put an end to all COVID-19 travel restrictions," finished Keyter.
The pandemic, vaccination status, and available science have evolved; so should the response and measures to keep Canadians safe while allowing the travel and tourism industry to re-open.
About the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable is a cross-Canadian coalition of leaders in the tourism and travel sector – including representatives from airports, airlines, hotels, and chambers of commerce across the country – committed to working together to restart the sector smoothly and safely. Travel and Tourism is a $102 billion sector, employing millions of Canadians across the country and accounting for 2.1% of the country's gross domestic product. It advocates for safe and prosperous tourism and travel sector across Canada.
SOURCE Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable
For further information: Media Contact: Randi Rahamim, firstname.lastname@example.org