You can’t quite say that Canada stands alone but we are among the shrinking list of countries keeping COVID-19 travel restrictions in place. In a vote this week, the NDP-Liberal coalition in Ottawa voted against a Conservative motion to drop the travel requirements.
These travel restrictions have been cited by airlines and others in the travel industry for the delays and bottlenecks at airports across the country and have called for them to end. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, though, insists his government is following the science in their vote and in extending the measures for another month.
So, we have to ask if the science is different in Canada than in Europe?
The European Union dropped their requirement for air passengers to wear a mask on flights in early May. Norway dropped all of their travel requirements in February while Ireland, Britain, Denmark dropped theirs in March.
There is a long list of other countries that have followed suit and not just in Europe. Hot spots such as Aruba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Curacao have all dropped the kinds of entry and travel requirements we have in Canada.
What’s odd is that we even have these rules for domestic travel on planes or trains. That’s not something common in other countries.
The Trudeau Liberals were slow to bring about proper screening at airports at the start of the pandemic. As new variants popped up, they rejected the idea of travel restrictions as racist. They had to be embarrassed into adopting testing at Pearson, Canada’s busiest airport, by the Ford government in Ontario.
Now, they don’t want to get rid of the measures they once rejected and ridiculed. Having fought and won an election on vaccine mandates, including for travel, Trudeau doesn’t want to let go.
“Once again, we see the Conservatives refusing to remember that we actually had a very important election last year on the question of mandates, on the question of protections for Canadians and they lost that election,” Trudeau said in the House on Wednesday.
That statement proves that when Trudeau says he’s following the science, it’s the political science, not the medical science.
“Airports have directly cited the Liberals’ policies as the reason for these delays,” Conservative MP and transport critic Melissa Lantsman said after the vote on Monday.
“After two long years of the pandemic, Canadians are finally looking to return to normalcy and begin travelling again. Unfortunately, the NDP-Liberal government continues to cling to outdated and unnecessary protocols that are exacerbating delays.”
Trudeau obviously thinks that clinging to these mandates and restrictions is a vote winner for him just as they were in the September election. I’m not sure he’s reading the room correctly at this point.
Provinces across the country have eased COVID restrictions on the advice of top medical officials. His own chief medical officer of health has called for an easing of restrictions as well and in February promised a review of travel measures.
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“We do need to get back to some normalcy,” Dr. Tam said in early February.
Despite her words, her call to get back to normal, little has changed.
It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that the Trudeau government made a big deal of announcing that this is tourism week and then promptly extended the travel measures that are clogging airports. The travel industry was hard hit throughout the pandemic, the extension of these measures, another month of delays at airports, will not help them with recovery.
The rest of the world is moving on, why is Trudeau once again being a laggard?