A step in the right direction, but still ‘far short’ of the recommendations of Health Canada’s Expert Advisory Panel report that was released at the end of May. That’s the message from the National Airlines Council of Canada.
In taking note of the federal government’s announcement that as of July 5, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents will be exempt from hotel quarantine and mandatory 14-day quarantine, NACC repeated its plea that Canada desperately needs a clear and comprehensive re-start plan for international travel, and an end to one-off piecemeal announcements concerning quarantine and border policy changes.
Mike McNaney, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, said that: “Easing quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadians and eligible travellers is a step in the right direction, but falls far short of the recommendations provided by Health Canada’s Expert Advisory Panel report released last month. The government continues to refuse to provide Canadians with a clear and comprehensive restart plan outlining how measures from the report will be adopted. While other countries like France have already changed their measures to welcome Canadian travellers, we still have no plan or clear timeframe in Canada.”
NACC points out that the Health Canada Advisory Panel report calls for a variety of changes to travel and border measures including:
- Elimination of quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers
- Elimination of hotel quarantine for all travellers
- Reduction of quarantine for partially vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers
- And the use of rapid antigen testing
While Canada has reached a vaccination target of 75% / 20%, NACC said that today’s (June 21) announcement did not substantively address these measures.
McNaney also pointed out that the government’s requirement that children under the age of 18 who are not fully vaccinated must adhere to a 14-day quarantine runs counter to the approach taken by other countries.
NACC’s boss said: “The government repeatedly states it is working with our international partners and following science, yet pursues initiatives such as mandatory quarantine for minors that is completely out of step with other jurisdictions. In fact, the policy directly contradicts the recommendations issued jointly on June 17 by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.’
And he continued: ““Unlike many other countries including our G7 partners, Canada has yet to provide a clear restart plan outlining when and how major travel and border restrictions will be removed, in particular for fully vaccinated travellers from foreign countries, and how the Panel’s recommendations will be adopted. As vaccination programs increase rapidly and jurisdictions around the world provide consumers and industry with a clear path forward, we must do the same. Countries that successfully implement a science and data – based testing and quarantine policy will not only protect public health, they will also drive their overall domestic recovery and take jobs and investment from countries that do not. We must get moving now.”
As for the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), the association’s president and CEO, Beth Potter said bluntly: “Friday’s border closure extension was a gut punch and today’s announcement is a further disappointment to tourism workers and tourism businesses that will now likely lose the summer as tourism remains closed and government supports will be decreased as of July 4.”