Amid rising coronavirus cases in the US, Air Canada has come forth with some alarming promotions. Despite warnings issued by federal travel advisories, Air Canada is flaunting the availability of both business and leisure flights to the US. Advisories have however emphasized that any non-essential travel during the pandemic, out of the country should be limited.
The airline’s booking telephone line for customers has the following message playing on repeat:
“Are you eager to reunite with friends and relatives in the U.S? Did you know that Canadians are permitted to travel by air to or from the U.S. for leisure or business? Review our step-by-step guide available on aircanada.com/travelguidelines to see what to expect while traveling.”
Also Read: Can You Get Coronavirus from Air Traveling?
Canada on the other hand has halted all incoming travel from the US through the land, it permits travel only for special essential cases. For air travel during the pandemic, however, Canada has no rules limiting travel to or from the US.
As for the United States, on land, there is a prohibition of travel if the visit is non-essential but for air travel during the pandemic, it has no specific conditions for flights coming from Canada.
The contradicting conflict in such rules is seen as a loophole. Infectious disease experts are issuing warnings saying people in Canada are likely not well versed with the loopholes that exist in the rules and if travel is promoted, Canadians risk bringing the virus back to the country by thinking traveling out of the country to be safe.
Dr. Anna Banerji is an infectious disease and global health specialist at the University of Toronto. She reminds people that we are indeed still in a pandemic and that being said it undermines the measures in place by the public health.
Dr. Banerji emphasizes that the worrying rate of daily coronavirus deaths during the pandemic in the United States is not under control and is increasingly becoming a volatile situation.
Therefore seeing Air Canada promote travel for leisure purposes during a grave global health crisis does not seem very ethical. The airline needs to pay attention to their actions and how it might affect the nature of the pandemic in Canada.
Since then Air Canada has taken to defending their telephone recorded message saying that though restrictions for the pandemic by the government have threatened the stability of the industry, their airline has struggled to keep up basic operations and services like letting families reunite. Reuniting families, they say, falls under the classification of leisure travel.
They believe that doing so has enabled them to carry out essential tasks such as shipping cargo including vital medical goods, PPE, perishable foods, and essential machinery for businesses. Peter Fitzpatrick who is the spokesperson for the airline also pointed out how the airline merely aims to facilitate Canadians abroad as well as help family long separated by the pandemic unite again
It is important to note that the government of Canada does not specify or define what non-essential travel really is and instead says the decision depends on the individual.
Fitzpatrick also mentioned that the airline has been carrying out proper safety measures to protect both employees and customers.
Canada’s government however does mention that returning Canadians need to quarantine on their return for a period of 14 days. Upon returning they are also expected to leave address and contact information details so that they may be checked upon by the authorities. The government also makes sure the individuals respect the quarantine restrictions as it is an important part of keeping the country safe.
Those who break rules of compulsory quarantine in Canada can face a punishment of up to $750,000 and or jail time. Public health officials in Waterloo however warn that coronavirus cases consisting of travel make up a percentage of 18 new infections. Most of these cases are of individuals traveling from the United States.
Looking at such data, therefore, stands to remind us yet again that we must try our utmost best to limit outer travel so that unnecessary risks don’t get involved.