Saskatchewan air travellers respond to coronavirus border closures
Linda Larre and Harold Taylor, two travellers who just cut their vacation short and returned to Canada, don’t think the travel ban will work.
“I don’t see what the restrictions are going to do,” Larre said. “If the virus is here it’s going to find its way through, one way or the other.”
“I just don’t understand how we’re going to isolate this. People are travelling freely right now,” Taylor added.
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would close Canada’s borders on Wednesday to people who aren’t Canadian or permanent residents.
Larre told Global News the lax screening she just experienced wouldn’t help.
She said the border security agent only asked her two questions — if she was experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms and that she read a pamphlet explaining why she should go into isolation after returning home.
“I was very surprised. Actually, I thought we were going to be asked a lot more questions when we got on the plane in Orlando, Fla., as well as in Minneapolis, Minn., but nothing was asked of us other than our seats.”
The flight Larre and Taylor just took from Minneapolis will be one of the last before the ban takes effect.
But the ban isn’t complete.
Diplomats, air operators, border crossings related to trade and immediate family members of Canadians and permanent residents are also exempt — as are Americans.
Trudeau said the Canadian and American economies are too intertwined to sever the connection.
But two of the seven people with confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan were recently in the U.S., where testing has been slow.
Coleman Forke, who was travelling to Edmonton later that day, said he was worried about the exemption.
“That’s kind of troubling. I think everyone should be tested, especially if they’ve been somewhere they could have been exposed to it — they definitely should get tested,” he said.
As of Wednesday, all incoming flights to Canada will be routed to major airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal. Domestic flights, and some flights from the Caribbean, will not be affected, so anyone returning will have to travel to one of the major hubs and then to Saskatchewan.
Canada’s chief medical officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said anyone who has travelled abroad recently should self-isolate at home for 14 days upon their return.
James Bogusz, the Regina Airport Authority president and CEO, said the airport is emphasizing that point to travellers.
“We continue to improve and increase our custodial services throughout the terminal building, with an emphasis being placed on the passenger touchpoints,” like kiosks, countertops and the international arrivals area. He also said the authority was adding more sanitizer stations, but noted the company didn’t manage the actual screening.
He said all travellers, domestic or international, should inform themselves about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
A statement from the Saskatoon airport said it had activated “contingency cleaning measures.”
Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn that this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
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