An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
CANADA PASSED A GRIM MILESTONE on Sunday. More than 20,000 Canadians have now died from COVID-19.
That sobering number might make people feel a little better about the newest travel restrictions. Yesterday was also the day when airlines suspended flights between Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
No more sun-spot vacays at least until the end of April. Justin Trudeau has also decreed further restrictions on where international flights can land, and all incoming air travellers will have to stay at a government-approved hotel for three nights and take a COVID-19 test.
Those with negative test results can then quarantine at home for the rest of the 14 days.
Doesn’t sound so daunting, except that they’ll have to pay the bill themselves, and Trudeau says that could cost more than $2,000. That’s almost $700 a night and some are no doubt wondering if it’s based on the kinds of hotels Justin usually stays in.
Hotel rooms certainly aren’t cheap anymore but couldn’t he pick more economical accommodation? The answer is that the new rule isn’t about saving travellers money; it’s about discouraging them from travelling at all.
Some insist the government should pay the hotel bills. Others question the effectiveness of air-travel restrictions. And, based on recent experience, it seems the wealthy are able to continue travelling almost as they like.
Of course, the fact that by far the majority of deaths caused by the virus are non-travelling elderly folks haunts us.
It’s hard to feel overly sympathetic to anyone who continues to travel other than for essential purposes. One wonders, though, why these new restrictions took almost a year to impose. Several other countries are way ahead of us.
After all, everybody saw the second wave coming. The fattening of the curve has been going on for many weeks.
These new travel rules are welcome; let’s hope they actually do some good.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com