More routes in jeopardy post-COVID but Air Canada says it will wait on govt. talks

Air Canada urges science-based approach to easing restrictions

MONTREAL — A letter written to the federal government by Air Canada’s Chief Medical Officer, Jim Chung, urges Ottawa to look at “a science-based approach to easing the Quarantine Act restrictions.”

The letter, addressed to Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Health Minister Patty Hajdu, with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and 16 others CC’d, can be found here.

Air Canada notes that the restrictions, including the travel advisory warning against non-essential travel, and the 14-day mandatory quarantine, have been essentially unchanged since the early weeks of the pandemic.

The airline is advocating for a better balance for travellers and for the Canadian economy, without putting public health in jeopardy.

Air Canada says it is not proposing relaxing the U.S. border restrictions at this time, “only to replace the quarantine requirements for those countries with a low COVID-19 risk from a public health perspective with more proportionate, evidence-based measures and experiences from other countries.”

The airline points out that the proposed measures have been endorsed by medical professionals globally and by IATA, and mirror those adopted by the EU, the UK and other worldwide jurisdictions.

These measures include:

  • Safe corridors or travel between approved jurisdictions with fewer cases on the basis of low risk from a public health perspective (the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal are among the countries using this approach)
  • Requirement for a pre-departure, medically certified negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country (Caribbean islands)
  • Waiver of quarantine requirements following a negative test on arrival (Iceland, Austria, Luxembourg)
  • Mandatory testing on arrival (South Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, UAE)

In May Air Canada introduced its comprehensive program Air Canada CleanCare+ to apply industry leading biosafety measures at each stage of the journey. Air Canada was the first airline in the Americas to take customers’ temperatures prior to boarding.

Following  news of a possible rapid COVID-19 test in the works, Air Canada also announced a new partnership with Cleveland Clinic to develop biosafety measures across its operations.