TORONTO — More provinces are going the same route as Ontario, battening down the hatches on provincial borders as much as possible in an effort to slow or curb the third wave of COVID-19 caseloads.
After Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on April 16 new inter-provincial travel restrictions now in effect, Quebec followed suit.
Now B.C. is imposing travel restrictions too, asking residents to stay in their health regions. Police are setting up roadside checks similar to those seen in B.C. during the Christmas season.
B.C. Premier John Horgan’s government has been working with the tourism industry and BC Ferries to cancel bookings that have been made and to not accept new ones from people living outside their intended destination. Signs will also be posted at B.C.’s boundary with Alberta to reduce non-essential travel between the two provinces.
PEI is also tightening border restrictions in an effort to limit the number of new COVID-19 cases in the province. Effective immediately, most non-resident travel to the Island from outside Atlantic Canada is on hold until at least May 17. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison is recommending Islanders avoid non-essential travel.
While there’s still hope for saving summer, with domestic tourism the watchword for the second summer in a row amid COVID-19, tourism and hospitality businesses in Canada are debating whether to hire employees for the summer and risk being over-staffed if lockdowns drag into summer, or stay lean and risk being under-staffed if travel is more open in a couple of months.
Beth Potter, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), said businesses were counting on a boom in domestic travel over the next few months to get them through the tail end of the pandemic, and both management and employees are now left to make hard decisions.
“Just six weeks ago we were looking at summer in a very different way,” said Potter.
“Now we’re not sure what to expect. It makes it very challenging for businesses to plan.”
With files from The Canadian Press