The Chronicle Herald (Metro)

Easing border restrictio­ns positive sign for tourism

- ROGER TAYLOR rtaylor@herald.ca @thisrogert­aylor With files from Dave Stewart

The Halifax Internatio­nal Airport Authority, operator of the largest airport in the Atlantic region, is hopeful the slow easing of COVID restrictio­ns by the federal government is a sign the aviation industry is about to get back to normal.

Aviation was one of the most adversely affected industries during the pandemic, and now with rising vaccinatio­n rates and declining COVID-19 cases, it is a hopeful sign of potential recovery for the Halifax Stanfield Internatio­nal Airport, said Leah Batstone, who speaks on behalf of the airport authority.

Provided the domestic epidemiolo­gical situation remains favourable, the government stated that it intends to open Canada's borders on Sept. 7 to any fully vaccinated travellers who have completed the full course of vaccinatio­n, with a vaccine accepted by Canadian health authoritie­s, at least 14 days prior to entering Canada and who meet specific entry requiremen­ts.

As a first step in achieving that goal, Ottawa plans to begin allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been fully vaccinated to enter Canada for nonessenti­al travel beginning on Aug. 9.

Transport Canada will expand the existing Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), which currently directs scheduled internatio­nal commercial passenger flights into four Canadian Airports: Montréal-trudeau Internatio­nal Airport, Toronto Pearson Internatio­nal Airport, Calgary Internatio­nal Airport, and Vancouver Internatio­nal Airport.

Effective Aug. 9, internatio­nal flights will be permitted to land at Halifax Stanfield Internatio­nal Airport; Québec City Jean Lesage Internatio­nal Airport; Ottawa Macdonald– Cartier Internatio­nal Airport; Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson Internatio­nal Airport; and Edmonton Internatio­nal Airport.

Batstone said it is still too early to determine just how many internatio­nal flights will be operationa­l, and when, but the airport authority expects the first flights will be to New York and eventually Florida, during the cold weather months.

Brian Ellis, owner of the Cavendish Tourist Mart in Cavendish, P.E.I., says he's not getting his expectatio­ns up.

“I never put the cart before the horse,'' Ellis said, when asked if he hopes to see a bump in tourist traffic after Aug. 9. “You kind of have to take whatever comes. Hopefully, they're coming. Hopefully, we don't have many stumbling blocks left in the way. We've got to take what comes in the door anyway.''

Ellis said many tourism businesses remain in survival mode that began when things began to shut down last year. But, he's trying to remain optimistic.

“Every time things open up it improves things but we're still a long, long, long way from 2019 — a long, long way.''

Matthew Jelley, president of the Maritime Fun Group, which operates a number of amusement parks in Cavendish, said his company is not expecting to see much of an uptick in business as a result of the easing of border restrictio­ns. Jelley also serves as mayor of the Cavendish Resort Municipali­ty, which includes the communitie­s of Cavendish, Stanley Bridge, Hope River, Bayview and North Rustico.

“It's not a huge component of the market, especially when it comes later in the season, but I think the opening and the reopening is a positive thing,'' he said

Subject to limited exceptions, all travellers must use the Arrivecan app or web portal to submit their travel informatio­n. If they are eligible to enter Canada and meet specific criteria, fully vaccinated travellers will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

The airports will work in cooperatio­n with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Transport Canada, to implement the measures necessary to safely welcome internatio­nal passengers as soon as possible after Aug. 9, as conditions dictate.

Leah Batstone said the airport authority has been working with the provincial government since early June to offer PCR testing in the arrivals area for passengers who request it. Authority believes that experience will be beneficial as the number of internatio­nal visitors increases.

All travellers, regardless of vaccinatio­n status, will still require a pre-entry COVID19 molecular test result. However, effective Aug. 9, the government will be using a new “border testing surveillan­ce program at airports and land border crossings.”

Fully vaccinated travellers will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test. There are no changes to the mandatory testing of unvaccinat­ed travellers.

With the advent of increased vaccinatio­n rates in Canada, declining COVID-19 cases and reduced pressure on health care capacity, the three-night government authorized hotel stay requiremen­t will be eliminated for all travellers arriving by air on Aug. 9.

Fully vaccinated travellers who meet the requiremen­ts will be exempt from quarantine; however, all travellers must still provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine, in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet the necessary requiremen­ts.

Margaret Murphy, associate vice-president of external affairs at Saint Mary's University, said in an email that the loosening of border restrictio­ns is good news for internatio­nal students who have received approved vaccines.

“And as those students will no longer have to self-quarantine at their arriving airport, this will greatly help our arriving internatio­nal students get to their final Canadian destinatio­n sooner,” Murphy said.

However, students coming to SMU from countries where they have either have not received a vaccinatio­n or have not received a vaccinatio­n that is recognized by the Government of Canada, will still need to self-quarantine for 14 days, she said.

According to a government news release, any person who submits false informatio­n about their vaccinatio­n status could be liable to a fine of up to $750,000 or six months imprisonme­nt or both, or prosecuted for forgery.

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 ?? ERIC WYNNE • THE CHRONICLE HERALD ?? Tourists visit Peggys Cove in this file photo from July 2019.
ERIC WYNNE • THE CHRONICLE HERALD Tourists visit Peggys Cove in this file photo from July 2019.

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