Air Canada is again urging the government to ease COVID-19 travel restrictions, this time by adopting a "science-based approach" that would open travel to countries with low risks of infection. A traveler walks between check-in kiosks at Toronto's Pearson International Airport for a "Healthy Airport" during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)

Air Canada urges Canada to ease travel restrictions with science based approach

Air Canada’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Chung wrote a letter on Wednesday calling on the Canadian federal government to consider using a science based approach to easing travel restrictions.

The airline has asked the government to ease restrictions to the Quarantine Act restrictions that have remained mostly unchanged since March, in order to strike a better balance for travelers and the Canadian economy without negatively impacting public health. 

The letter does not propose easing border restrictions with the United States, but to replace quarantine restrictions for countries that have a low COVID-19 risk from a public health perspective with evidence based measures and experiences from other countries.

“There are many other interests affected by the quarantine restrictions – not only jobs and pensions, but also the social and economic wellbeing of individuals and communities that rely on air travel, as well as basic freedoms of mobility,” Chung said in his letter. 

“Business and labour leaders alike have implored the Government to act on easing these restrictions in order to strike a better balance, without adversely impacting public health,” he added.

Air Canada noted other countries that have been using evidence based approaches to travel while also minimizing the risk of COVID-19 including a required pre-departure negative COVID-19 test before being able to enter the Carribean, a waiver of quarantine requirements after a negative test upon arriving in Iceland, Austria, and Luxembourg, and mandatory testing upon arrival to South Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, and United Arab Emirates.

This is not the first Air Canada has asked for the government to ease travel restrictions. In June, Calin Rovinescu the airline’s chief executive officer thought that Canada’s travel restrictions were disproportionate when compared to the reduction of COVID-19 cases. 

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