Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is anticipated to announce measures to restrict international travel later today. He has warned the public not to take any trips that aren’t absolutely essential, saying that restrictions could be imposed at any time that could make it difficult for them to return. The aviation industry is calling for aid, as flying through the pandemic is set to get tougher.
Trudeau to cancel March break
The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, will make an announcement later today regarding the short term future of international travel. He has been warning for several days that the federal government may implement new measures to restrict movement and is anticipated to take action on those warnings imminently.
For Trudeau, driving home the message to Canadians not to travel is an uphill struggle, as winter-weary snowbirds eye warm spring breaks over the upcoming March holiday. At a press conference earlier this week, he again warned his citizens not to book up any non-essential travel, and called on those with plans in place to cancel their trips.
He stated that the bad choices of a few should not be allowed to put others at risk. He stated that, while the number of cases linked to overseas travel remains low, even one imported case is too many. The evolving news of new COVID variants in other countries is spurring the government to implement new restrictions to stop the flow of people in and out of the border.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Hotel quarantine is the new trend
Quebec Premier Francois Legault again yesterday called for an outright ban on nonessential travel. He stated that the PM should implement new quarantine rules, suggesting a 14-day hotel stay as a solution. In response, Trudeau said that “all options are on the table.”
If Canada does implement a hotel based quarantine requirement, it would be following in the steps of the UK, which announced such measures earlier this week. Mandating a government-controlled hotel stay is something other nations have been doing for months, but it’s taken a while to catch on in the West.
Right now, the border between Canada and the US remains closed. International arrivals must present a COVID-19 negative test result before departing, and must quarantine for 14 days. However, policing compliance with this in private homes is proving to be a challenge.
As well as hotel quarantine, Trudeau is expected to announce additional measures to prevent Canadians from undertaking non-essential travel. The details of this are unclear, but in the UK, this is being achieved through checks at ports and airports.
Another blow for the ailing aviation sector
For Canadian airlines, more travel restrictions will simply put an additional squeeze on their already suffering finances. Today, the industry has come together to warn the government that its long-term survival is at risk if Ottawa doesn’t step up soon with a package of financial aid.
CBC reported today that Mike Mueller, senior vice-president of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, said businesses in the industry had lost 40% of their revenue due to COVID-19. More than half, he said, had been forced to lay off employees.
Flag carrier Air Canada, which has already reduced staffing by some 20,000 workers, is still burning through around $12 million a day. Rob Giguerre, chief executive officer of the Air Canada Pilots Association, said as many as 700 pilots were no longer active, and those who are were taking home just 65% of their usual salary. Speaking about Air Canada, he said,
“The airline is smaller today than it was when I started my career as a pilot in the 70s.”
A spokesperson for the government said that Ottawa remains committed to supporting Canada’s airlines and workers. They pointed out the CA$1.5 billion paid out under the emergency wage subsidy and the CA$1 billion for small airlines and airports announced in the autumn update.
However, they stated that any further support would be dependent on airlines refunding canceled flights.