International travelers at Calgary’s International Airport say it’s time to do away with COVID-19 border measures and travel restrictions.
“Right now we have a federal government that likes making rules and controlling people’s lives,” said Allan Chatenay, who was returning to Calgary from Dallas.
“It’s sort of like the rest of the world has moved on (from COVID-19 restrictions) and Canada is stuck a year back.”
CTV News learned Monday that Ottawa plans to scrap random testing at airports, remove 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 plane, or American plane coming to Canada and they say well you’re supposed to put the masks on, he said.
“It’s crazy, and we’re just lost.”
For Al Tallman, he doesn’t understand the need for masks anymore.
“Why am I sitting in a plane, fully-vaccinated and having to sit for a mask,” said Tallman.
Travelers like Daniela Carmona says she understands restrictions are being lifted, but urged everyone to remain cautious.
“I think it’s very vital that we are all keeping each other safe,” she said.
“Although the regulations are being dropped, we are very conscientious of what is going on around us.”
Brian Smith flew in from Maine last week. He says ArriveCAN has made traveling a little more stressful.
“I get it, I understand the need but it is a pain and it makes this all a lot harder than it used to be,” he said.
All non-US citizens, non-US immigrants traveling to the United States by air are required to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Calgary Airport Authority welcomes the news of the new changes.
“We continue to prioritize the health and safety of our guests 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 with the Calgary Airport Authority.
Air Canada said in a statement “it’s advocated for safe travel based on science.”
“The current science supports the relaxation of measures such as these, and we would welcome this as it would support the Canadian industry’s further recovery from COVID,” the statement read.
“Such measures would also be consistent with those already taken by many other countries around the world.”
WestJet says it would like to see the measures gone.
“We are strongly in support of the removal of all remaining outdated measures on behalf of our guests and our people who should be empowered to make 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 misaligned with the existing global consensus.”
Gibbons added that he would like to see the mask mandates become ‘optional,’ to protect airline staff.
“Canada’s mandatory masking policy must transition to optional to reflect the reality of consumer activities in Canada and around the world,” he said.
“The mandatory mask policy has become increasingly unenforceable.”
WestJet says in 2022 alone there have been 1,100 reported incidents of mask non-compliance, an increase from last year.
Those situations have caused one air turn back, nine gate turn backs and 74 flights to re-open the cabin door after boarding, to offload unruly guests.
Gibbons said mask non-compliance has significantly increased in unruly behavior and has resulted in verbal and physical assault.
Premier Jason Kenney says he has urged the prime minister for months to scrap the restrictions, recalling a conversation from last December.
“If it’s not going to impede transmission, then why are you going to be doing this,” said Kenney.
“He (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) essentially said, ‘well, Jason you guys in the provinces hold all of the levers, the only levers we have are related to travel, and we have to be seen as doing something.'”
The federal government would not confirm news from sources on Tuesday about whether an announcement is scheduled for Sept. 30.
Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra says no decision has been made, citing the importance of ArriveCAN.
“ArriveCAN is a critical tool to process travelers with the requirement of the vaccine mandate,” said Alghabra.