International travellers arriving at YVR say they're not seeing extra screening
RICHMOND -- The federal government announced several new travel advisories and restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak Friday, suggesting that Canadians avoid all non-essential international travel, including to the United States.
“Today my advice is to postpone or cancel all non-essential travel outside of Canada," said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer. "This means reconsidering your vacations, going to sporting and entertainment events and international conferences.”
By mid-morning, there was no line for U.S. customs at the Peace Arch Border Crossing for people driving south. Several vehicles with B.C. licence plates did make the trip, including one occupied by a couple who said they were going shopping in Bellingham and another containing a woman who said she was collecting mail from her U.S. post office box.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s top physician, has urged anyone arriving back in Canada to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they’ve just made a quick day trip across the border.
The feds also announced a plan to restrict international flights to certain airports in Canada — but did not not say which ones.
“This will allow us to concentrate our precious resources for our border services officers and public health officers to ensure they can do the important job Canadians require of screening all arriving passengers,” said Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.
At Vancouver International Airport, passengers arriving from overseas Friday told CTV News they didn’t notice any additional screening while passing through Canada Customs.
“Yeah, there is nothing happening in the airport. It’s insane. All other airports have been really spot on. This airport? Nothing happening,” said traveller Emma Logan. “And yet the media is telling everybody that they need to be careful and there’s nothing actually happening in the airport.”
Others say family and friends have kept them up to date on what’s happening while they’ve been away, including the recommendation to self-isolate when arriving back in Canada.
“We are returning today 11 days before we were scheduled to return to make sure we got back before there were any major flight restrictions,” said Barbara Wahler after arriving on a flight from Europe. “Aside from figuring out how we’re going to get food, we are ready to self-isolate.”
Dr. Henry said the 14-day isolation period would not apply to frequent travellers deemed essential, such as those working in aviation and cross-border truckers.
Transportation Minister Marc Garneau also announced cruise ships with more than 500 people will be denied access to Canadian ports until July 1 at the earliest — a devastating economic blow for Vancouver tourism operators.