A cross-Canadian coalition of leaders in tourism and travel working to safely restart the sector is urging Ottawa to immediately release a plan based on the recommendations made in the COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, which was released last week.
“Canadians are doing their part in getting vaccinated. Now it is time to provide clear, timely, and safe guidance on reopening travel and reuniting families and friends,” said the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable in a statement on Tuesday (June 1).
The Roundtable, made up of airlines, hotels, tour operators and trade associations, was formed in June 2020 to highlight the impact COVID-19 is having on travel and convince the federal government to re-evaluate broad or unnecessary travel restrictions.
The coalition has also expressed the need for a more targeted approach to the resumption of travel.
The release of last week’s data and science-driven study, which was compiled by a panel of epidemiology and virology experts, outlines several recommendations that could lead to a safe re-start of Canada's aviation, travel and tourism sectors.
The report recommends eliminating quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers, implementing changes to testing and screening, and eliminating the hotel quarantine policy. (Click here to view their entire report).
“With increasing vaccination rates and decreasing case counts, it is time for the federal government to announce a plan to implement the recommendations of the Expert Panel,” the Roundtable said. "Just as it was important to quickly put in place measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians at the start of the pandemic, it is of equal importance to remove restrictions that are no longer necessary.”
Given the advances in science and safety, as well as progress on vaccination in Canada, “the safe restart of travel must be planned,” the committee said.
Let's get moving
The Roundtable is encouraging the federal government to implement a vaccination certification process in line with global standards.
“The upcoming G7 discussions present an opportunity for Canada to work with the international community toward a common approach,” the committee said.
Vaccine passports – or “vaccine certificates,” as Canada will be calling them – are still a work in progress.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, last Friday, said he has met with his counterparts in the G7 to discuss the coordination of a platform that “works well with other countries.”
The platform will recognize both vaccinated foreign travellers entering Canada while equipping Canadians with health credentials for travel abroad, Alghabra said.
The Roundtable is calling on Ottawa to make the following changes (based on the panel’s recommendations):
- Eliminate the government hotel quarantine for all travellers;
- Eliminate pre-departure tests and quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers;
- Reduce quarantine for partially vaccinated travellers (after a test upon arrival) and unvaccinated travellers (after a test taken at day 7);
- Amend border measures in stages; and,
- Put in place a system to validate proof of vaccination for arriving travellers as soon as possible.
Last week, in a statement, Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair announced that Canada's current travel and border restrictions will remain in place, despite the contrary advice of their own panel of experts.
The committee’s report, however, is excepted to influence future decisions on border and quarantine measures, suggested Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, speaking at a virtual Mississauga Board of Trade event last Friday (May 28).
“It’s really going to provide good insight into our next considerations and next steps,” said Minister Alghabra, who was unable to provide an exact date for when changes will happen.
The Minister said Canadians can expect to see “adjustments” to border and quarantine measures “in the coming weeks” as COVID-19 cases decline and vaccination rates increase.
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