TORONTO — The federal government and Canada’s major airlines announced Friday that flights to sun destinations would be suspended until May in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.
Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, and Air Transat will be cancelling air service to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico from Jan. 31st until April 30th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in a press conference Friday.
The airlines will be making arrangements with customers currently traveling in the affected regions to organize their return flights, he added.
The new measures impact 15 Air Canada destinations and 14 WestJet destinations, according to the airline companies. Air Transat announced on its website that it was suspending its regular operations until the end of April as a result of these new restrictions.
WestJet said in a press release that it was working to bring its guests already vacationing back to Canada over the next two weeks and would be notifying those booked to travel during the impacted period of their options. Air Transat also said it was working on a repatriation plan for all its customers and would announce details shortly.
Air Canada and Sunwing could not be immediately reached.
“We appreciate the work the Canadian airlines and their front line workers have done to make air travel safer and to bring Canadians home when this pandemic struck last spring,” Trudeau said.
“With the challenges we currently face with COVID-19 both here at home and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying.”
ADDITIONAL TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
In addition to these measures, Trudeau said all international passenger flights must land only in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal beginning next week.
The new measures follow Trudeau’s announcement that all travellers returning from overseas must take a COVID-19 PCR test at the airport when they land and quarantine in a designated hotel for up to three days at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2,000.
Those who test negative will be allowed to quarantine at home for the remainder of the mandatory two week period, but “under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement.” Those who test positive, however, must immediately quarantine in designated government facilities to ensure they are not carrying any of the variants that have caused concern around the world.
In the coming weeks, non-essential travellers will also be required to show a negative test before entry at the land border with the U.S., Trudeau said, adding that the government was working on additional testing requirements for land travel.
Trudeau said the government is enacting the tough measures now and is committed to a safe restart to travel and tourism as soon as conditions improve, “ideally, later this year.”
Ottawa and airlines will be working together on the future of COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements, he added.
“This will enable the safe, gradual return to international air travel, grounded in science and evidence.”
Source: CTV News
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