As the coronavirus situation appears to improve across Canada, the pressure is mounting to restart specific sectors of the economy. One notable industry that remains stifled is international tourism. This is due to travel bans and restrictions still in place, restricting entry into Canada. When asked about the reopening of borders this morning, the country’s Prime Minister pushed back – citing the risk of a second wave of infection.
The risk of a second wave
As part of his public morning briefings to the nation, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that moving too quickly could spark a second wave of the coronavirus:
“I understand there are a lot of tourism firms and airlines who would like us to be able to once again welcome tourists…But these people all need to understand that if we take steps too quickly, if we are not sure of what we’re doing at each stage, we risk hitting a second wave … and having to close our economy again.”
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Measures are ‘disproportionate’
Earlier this month, Air Canada’s President and CEO, Calin Rovinescu, was clear on his position with regards to government restrictions. As part of a webinar, Robinescu said the following:
“[These restrictions] may have been needed in the early stages of the pandemic…Right now it strikes me as a combination of disproportionate steps, things that are stifling the return to a more normalized aviation environment, and, quite frankly, stifling an economic recovery.”
Tourism sector unites in call for reopening
Rovinescu is not alone in calling for an easing of border restrictions. During the same week as Rovinescu’s remarks, more than 100 leaders of Canada’s travel and tourism industry attached their names to an open letter calling for the reopening of provincial and international borders.
Signatories to the letter included representatives of Air Canada, WestJet, Porter Airlines, travel agencies, tourism boards, and airports across the country. The full campaign, the open letter, and the specific demands can be found at the website time-to-travel.ca. Part of the website reads,
Blanket restrictions on movement and travel currently in place are simply too broad or unnecessary. Around the world, many countries including Australia, France, Germany, and Italy – have started to re-open borders to safe countries, allowing individuals and businesses to return to a healthy new normal.
“I understand how difficult this is and how frustrating this is for some people but … we are going to be very very careful about when and how we start reopening international borders,” said Trudeau.
For Canada’s tourism sector, it would indeed be difficult to see other countries reopening internationally and yet be stuck on the sidelines. It is also difficult at this time to know if a blanket-ban is the right decision – or if a Canada-Europe’ travel bubble’ would be a good compromise.
There will likely be more certainty on the efficacy of European policies in a month- where we will either see a spike in cases as a result of reopenings or further reassurance that easing restrictions have been successfully achieved.
What do you think? Should a blanket international travel ban remain in effect? Or should Canada reopen to certain countries that are considered safe? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.