Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Thursday, June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Travel will have to wait, despite calls from Canada’s business leaders: Trudeau

Open letter to premiers, prime minister urges ‘safe’ reopening of travel corridors

Travel into Canada will have to wait a while longer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters at a press conference Monday (June 22).

“Every step of the way, as we look at those next steps, we have to make sure we are keeping Canadians safe,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister said he understood how “difficult and frustrating” the COVID-related travel bans are for many, but said moving too soon would just send Canada backwards in its fight against the virus.

“We know that reopening too quickly or careless would lead us to a resurgence that might well force us to go back to lockdown, to shut down the economy once again,” Trudeau said.

The Canada-U.S. border has been shut to non-essential travel since March 21, and is currently on track to remain closed until July 21, although the closure could be extended. Canadians have been told to avoid non-essential international travel abroad since mid-March.

READ MORE: Canada-U.S. border closure to be extended until July 21

He pointed to supports brought in by the federal government, which include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the wage subsidy, interest-free loans for small businesses and bridge financing for larger companies.

Trudeau’s words came after an open letter from the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable.

In the letter, CEOs from companies like Air Canada, WestJet, Scotiabank and TELUS urged the prime minister and premiers to take action on resuming travel throughout Canada, as well as internationally.

READ MORE: Cross-Canada group calls for reopening of travel, tourism

The CEOs said Canada was entering a new phase of its pandemic response where the country “must find a responsible way to co-exist with COVID-19” until a vaccine is found.

“This includes prudently and thoughtfully opening aviation and lifting restrictions on travel throughout all provinces of Canada, as well as from select countries,” the letter said. The business leaders pointed to other regions, like within the European Union, that have introduced “‘safe’ corridors or air bridges” for travel.

In B.C., officials have said travel is on track to resume within the province this summer. In the current phase of COVID-19 restrictions, British Columbians have been asked to avoid non-essential travel throughout the province, particularly to remote communities that do not have the health-care facilities to handle an influx of virus cases.

“I think the likelihood of us traveling inside of B.C. is very, very high,” Premier John Horgan said during a June 10 press conference.

Meanwhile, the travel industry has been hit hard by complaints amid the pandemic. Many international flights, and some domestic, have been cancelled or postponed due to the virus. Earlier this month, the Better Business Bureau said travel agencies, airlines and vacation rentals had the most negative feedback during the pandemic. Overall, the bureau received more than 53,000 complaints and reviews between March and May – a 280 per cent increase over a three-month period. Of those complaints, airlines and vacation rentals received 2,565 and 2,089, respectively.

READ MORE: B.C. tourism on track for in-province travel, John Horgan says


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Screen Arts bringing films back to Vernon

Towne Theatre expected to show Okanagan Screen Arts Society films in September

Tronson Road in Vernon closed next week

A portion of the road will be closed to traffic while crews upgrade water service utilities

Vernon Performing Arts Centre goes ahead with bursary program amid COVID-19

Vernon-area students urged to apply for three $1,000 bursaries to pursue education in performing arts

Vernon business restores faith in humanity for houseboat fire victims

Community kindness leaves out-of-province father in tears of appreciation

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Mitchell’s Musings: Hockey’s comeback begins in earnest in August

Sports is back. Well, at least sports in a bubble is back.… Continue reading

COLUMN: Listen to those who know about COVID-19

Accurate information is essential when understanding the pandemic

Penticton man wakes to wildfire, forced to evacuate

A wildfire sparked off the side of Highway 97 near Penticton on Thursday

Anti-gang cops probe Kelowna’s street-level drug trade over B.C. Day long weekend

CFSEU’s Gang Enforcement Team was deployed to Kelowna last weekend

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Man allegedly wielding knife at Kelowna Superstore arrested

The 29-year-old Kelowna man has been released on strict conditions for a future court date

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Most Read