TORONTO — Eliminate the government hotel quarantine for all travellers. Eliminate pre-departure tests and quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers. Reduce quarantine for partially vaccinated travellers (after a test upon arrival) and unvaccinated travellers (after a test taken at day 7). Amend border measures in stages. And put in place a system to validate proof of vaccination for arriving travellers as soon as possible.
That’s the urgent call from the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, the coalition of travel industry heavyweights that started the #TimetoTravel movement in 2020.
The Roundtable’s request follows on the heels of the report from the COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel.
That report, presented to the federal government last week, said that Canada’s requirement for air travellers to quarantine for up to three days at a hotel is an expensive, inconsistent policy that contains loopholes and should be ditched. In addition to eliminating the hotel quarantine policy, the report also calls for implementing changes to testing and screening, and eliminating all quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers.
The Roundtable includes representation from Canada’s airlines, hotels, tour operators, airports, boards of trade and chambers of commerce and more across the country. Its call comes days after similar messaging from the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC).
The hotel quarantine rule, out of all of Canada’s travel restrictions over the past 15 months, has generated the most pushback from travellers and the travel industry. An Angus Reid poll released in April 2021 showed that while 58% of Canadians surveyed supported the hotel quarantine rule, only 30% said they thought it was effective.
STATEMENT FROM THE ROUNDTABLE
“Canadians are doing their part in getting vaccinated; now it is time to provide clear, timely, and safe guidance on reopening travel and reuniting families and friends,” says a statement from the Roundtable, issued today.
“With increasing vaccination rates and decreasing case counts, it is time for the federal government to announce a plan to implement the recommendations of the Expert Panel. Just as it was important to quickly put in place measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians at the start of the pandemic, it is of equal importance to remove restrictions that are no longer necessary,” says the Roundtable.
“The travel and tourism sector has worked tirelessly over the course of the pandemic to put in place measures that ensure the health and safety of travellers across the country. Further, Canadians have diligently followed public health restrictions by staying home and avoiding non- essential travel. Given the advances in science and safety, as well as the dramatic progress on vaccination in Canada, the safe restart of travel must be planned.
“Many provincial governments have taken a scientific approach to reopening based on metrics, including vaccination rates, COVID-19 cases and hospital capacity. As our economy begins to reopen, based on these metrics, one important catalyst for our recovery will be travel.
“Travel enables businesses to grow and thrive, and also provides a lifeline for Canadians to maintain essential links to family and friends.
“The Roundtable encourages the government to implement a vaccination certification process in line with global standards. The upcoming G7 discussions present an opportunity for Canada to work with the international community toward a common approach.”
As reported yesterday on Travelweek.ca, vaccine passports will be on the agenda at the G7 Summit, taking place June 11 – 13 in the UK.
“The Roundtable looks forward to working together with government to continue to improve safety standards and protocols.”
As part of that work, the Roundtable says it encourages the government to heed the advice of its experts to:
- Eliminate the government hotel quarantine for all travellers;
- Eliminate pre-departure tests and quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers;
- Reduce quarantine for partially vaccinated travellers (after a test upon arrival) and unvaccinated travellers (after a test taken at day 7);
- Amend border measures in stages; and,
- Put in place a system to validate proof of vaccination for arriving travellers as soon as possible.