PREMIER John Horgan on Friday welcomed the new international travel measures announced by the federal government, saying that they would strengthen the health and safety screenings at the borders and help keep British Columbians and all Canadians safer.
He added: “Our government had been calling for mandatory quarantine measures to restrict international travel further. We trust the federal government’s efforts to monitor and follow up with these travellers will be vigilant.
“These new measures build on British Columbia’s leadership when we brought in requirements for all international travellers to have self-isolation plans in April 2020.
“Our message about non-essential travel remains the same: if you do not need to travel, don’t. I continue to speak with the prime minister and premiers across the country about ways we can continue to limit non-essential interprovincial travel.
“With vaccines on the way, we look forward to the day when we can once again welcome visitors to B.C. safely. Until then, we ask everyone to please stay home.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat have agreed to suspend service to the Caribbean and Mexico starting this Sunday until April 30. The airlines will arrange for return flights for their customers who are currently in these regions.
The government will introduce mandatory COVID-19 testing upon arrival at airports in the coming weeks. This will be in addition to the pre-boarding test already required.
Travellers will then have to stay three days at a designated hotel at their own expense until they get their results. The hotel stays will cost them more than $2,000. If the traveller’s test is negative, they will be able to complete their 14-day quarantine at home under significantly increased surveillance.
Starting at 11:59 p.m. ET on Feruary 3, all international flights – except for cargo-only flights – will land at the Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal airports.
CONSERVATIVE Leader Erin O’Toole said in a statement: “Conservatives have always encouraged Canadians to follow federal and provincial public health guidelines. We were the first to call upon the government to secure the border at the start of the pandemic – the Liberals were too slow to act. We’re now a year into the pandemic and we aren’t using what we’ve learned from the first wave.
“Lockdowns and restrictions were put in place to buy governments time to get permanent solutions like vaccines, rapid testing, variant testing capacity, and therapeutics – these tools now exist. The problem is, Justin Trudeau hasn’t succeeded in bringing them to widespread use in Canada. We need to be using these tools to reduce quarantine times, like our allies around the world are doing.
“We’re here today because they’ve failed to secure and use these tools. The Liberal government needs to tell Canadians when and how new COVID-19 restrictions can be eased – what percentage of Canadians need to be vaccinated?
“Canadian airline jobs are in jeopardy. We continue to see more airline workers lose their jobs and regional routes close – they have no idea when support from the Liberal government is coming, if at all.
“By now, Canadians should know when things are going to get better. The Liberals can’t keep asking Canadians to sacrifice more without being clear when restrictions can be eased. Today, Conservatives are calling on the Liberals to give Canadians a clear plan and the information they deserve.”