International travelers at Calgary International Airport say it’s time to lift COVID-19 border measures and travel restrictions.
“Right now we have a federal government that likes to make rules and control people’s lives,” said Allan Chatenay, who was returning from Dallas to Calgary.
“It’s kind of like the rest of the world has moved on (from COVID-19 restrictions) and Canada is stuck a year behind.”
CTV News learned Monday that Ottawa plans to scrap random testing at airports, scrap the vaccine requirement for travelers entering the country and make the controversial ArriveCAN app optional by Sept. 30.
Chatenay says it’s a step in the right direction, but mask mandates on planes and trains also need to be eliminated.
“You go through a busy airport like Dallas-Fort Worth, one of the busiest airports in the world, and then you get on a Canadian or American plane coming to Canada and they say well you’re supposed to put on the masks,” he said.
“It’s crazy, and we’re just lost.”
For Al Tallman, he no longer understands the need for masks.
“Why am I sitting on a plane, fully vaccinated and having to sit for a mask,” Tallman said.
Travelers like Daniela Carmona say they understand the restrictions are being lifted, but urged everyone to remain cautious.
“I think it’s very important that we all protect each other,” she said.
“Although the regulations are dropped, we are very aware of what is happening around us.”
Brian Smith arrived from Maine last week. He says ArriveCAN has made traveling a little more stressful.
“I understand, I understand the need, but it’s painful and it makes it all a lot more difficult than before,” he said.
All non-U.S. citizen and non-U.S. immigrants traveling to the United States by air must present proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Calgary Airport Authority welcomes the announcement of the new changes.
“We continue to prioritize the health and safety of our customers with our internationally accredited #FlyHealthyYYC program as we pursue safe and seamless air travel with governments, airlines and airport partners” , said Carmelle Hunka, Vice President of the Calgary Airport Authority.
Air Canada said in a statement “it advocates safe travel based on science.”
“Current science supports the relaxation of measures like these, and we would welcome that as it would support the continued recovery of Canadian industry post-COVID,” the statement said.
“Such measures would also be consistent with those already taken by many other countries around the world.”
WestJet says it would like the measures gone.
“We strongly support the removal of all remaining outdated measures on behalf of our guests and employees who should be empowered to make the decisions that are best for them,” said Andy Gibbons, vice president of external affairs.
“Air travel has continued to be singled out and current policies are not aligned with the existing global consensus.”
Gibbons added that he would like to see mask mandates become “optional” to protect airline staff.
“Canada’s mandatory masking policy must become optional to reflect the reality of consumer activity in Canada and around the world,” he said.
“The mandatory mask policy has become increasingly unenforceable.”
WestJet says that in 2022 alone, 1,100 incidents of mask non-compliance were reported, an increase from last year.
These situations caused one rollback, nine rollbacks and 74 flights to reopen the cabin door after boarding, to offload unruly guests.
Gibbons said mask-breaking dramatically increased unruly behavior and led to verbal and physical aggression.
Prime Minister Jason Kenney says he has been urging the prime minister for months to remove restrictions, recalling a conversation last December.
“If that’s not going to prevent transmission, then why are you going to do that,” Kenney said.
“He (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) basically said, ‘Well, Jason, you guys in the provinces hold all the levers, the only levers we have are related to travel, and we need to be seen to be doing something. .
The federal government on Tuesday did not confirm news from sources indicating whether an announcement is scheduled for Sept. 30.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said no decision had been made, citing the importance of ArriveCAN.
“ArriveCAN is an essential tool for dealing with travelers with the vaccination mandate requirement,” Alghabra said.