TORONTO — The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) of the United Nations is calling out new blanket restrictions on travel, put in place by some governments in an effort to minimize the impact of the omicron variant.
Canada’s omicron watch list now stands at 10 countries, first announced last week. The U.S., the UK and EU nations have also brought in new restrictions.
At the just-wrapped 24th UNWTO General Assembly, countries from all global regions expressed their solidarity with southern African states, calling for the immediate lifting of travel bans imposed on specific countries and for freedom of international travel to be upheld.
“In light of recent developments, UNWTO has once again reminded countries that the imposition of blanket restrictions on travel is discriminatory, ineffective and contrary to WHO recommendations. Blanket restrictions may also stigmatize countries or whole regions,” says the organization.
During the UNWTO General Assembly, Members States and partners, including voices from international organizations and across the private sector, echoed WHO’s advice that travel restrictions should only be imposed as a very last resort in response to changing circumstances.
“Furthermore, it was stressed that if restrictions are introduced, they must be proportionate, transparent, and scientifically based. They must also only be introduced with a full appreciation of what halting international travel would mean for the most vulnerable, including those developing countries and individuals who depend on tourism for their economies and livelihoods,” said the UNWTO.
QUARANTINE HOTELS & LACK OF COMMUNICATION
Canada’s new measures in place for arrivals via 10 countries – Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria along with South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Eswatini and Namibia – are also getting criticism here at home.
Consumer media outlets are reporting cases of air travellers arriving in Canada via the 10 countries and staying at airport quarantine hotels in limbo, long after they receive their negative COVID-19 test results.
Travellers told CTV News that they were still in quarantine even after receiving their negative results. “No one has contacted me in terms of when I can go home,” said one traveller returning from Egypt, who got her negative result with no further communication.
Another traveller told The Canadian Press he wasn’t allowed to leave a Toronto quarantine hotel until the day after he received a negative result on the COVID-19 test he completed when he arrived in Canada.
“Our negative results came out on Saturday, but we are not allowed to leave until the quarantine officer calls us and tells us you can leave now. Nobody called us. Nobody called us until Sunday,” he said.
With file from The Canadian Press