New COVID travel rules in plane English | Marcel Strigberger

By Marcel Strigberger

Law360 Canada (January 29, 2021, 3:13 PM EST) --
Marcel Strigberger
Welcome to the friendly skies of Canada. Do you sense there is some pandemic frenzy and confusion with airline travel?

The feds have been maintaining Canada’s screening and admission rules are some of the toughest anywhere. Yet we have seen dozens of foreign airline flights from places like Istanbul, Las Vegas and even London, landing at Canadian airports with positive testing passengers. January alone saw four flights in one week bring in their COVID cargo just from Amsterdam to Calgary. Same airline. Just what Calgary needs now, another stampede; more precisely a Corona stampede. (Windmill variant?)

The info website is spooky as it lists the dates, flight numbers, rogue area, etc., warning something like “You have been exposed if you lucked out getting seated within three rows of row 18.” I’m sure that’s lots of comfort for the guy sitting in row 22. He’s probably thinking, “Phew! That was close.”

I went online to see what the deal is to enter Canada. You answer multiple option questions after clicking on a tab that reads something like, “Hello. Can I come in?” I clicked on “foreign national/not U.S/no symptoms.” This led to a number of other boards, seeking information why you wanted to enter. Each had different results.

If you choose “amateur sports,” you get, “You will not be allowed in.” No clue why any jock wanting in would foolishly choose this one. I guess because he’s an amateur.

Selecting “work,” will get you “You may be allowed into Canada.” It all depends on how you answer further questions, such as “Can you learn to say. “Eh?”

An interesting one is “Are you a French citizen from St. Pierre et Miquelon?” If so, the reply is, “You will likely be allowed in, but you will still have to pass secondary questioning at the airport.

I wonder what that would be like:

AIRPORT OFFICER: Sir, in the past 14 days have you dined at Bistro Chez St. Michel?

PASSENGER: Mais oui officier.

AIRPORT OFFICER: OK, you’re going back. Bonjour.

But it’s a good thing we now have even more stringent quarantine rules. The PM just announced more restrictions for all incoming international arrivals, including a mandatory up to three-day stay on their own dime, at a government approved hotel, until test results arrive. If you test positive, you continue the hotel experience.

I see major deficiencies here. The PM did not say whether or not you earn those hotel reward points. Even if you do, does the government penalize you for flying and claw them back?  

Furthermore will those hotels offer discounts like seniors or CAA?

Hey, those paying the piper are entitled to answers to these crucial questions. (For that matter does the piper also have to quarantine?)

If you test negative, you may leave the hotel and continue to self-quarantine. This entails stringent conditions, including having to frequently report, even electronically, etc. Failing to report may lead to getting a phone call from a public health officer. This alone is a good deterrent for non-compliance. You just do not want to get that officer’s inquisitorial call:

PH OFFICER: Good morning madam. Day five. Are you at home?

MADAM Q: Yes sir

PH OFFICER: Very good. Stay safe.

And even better news is your privacy is assured as there is no GPS type tracking via your cell phone etc. At least your privacy rights stay safe.

The situation is certainly messy. The good thing is we can all count on those assurances that the pharmaceutical companies will deliver those vaccines as per their assurances.

I can’t say where this is all going next. But I do look forward to the day we are all out of it and we can all travel normally. I might even get adventurous, take a trip to St. Pierre et Miquelon.

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. Visit Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

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