Fear and loathing... and confusion at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport...
Now that so many MPs, MPPs and MLAs have all returned from their fun in the sun getaways abroad, there are new federal restrictions coming into effect for international travellers returning to Canada. Such as: returnees must get tested for the Wuhan virus prior to leaving the airport. And once they do leave, they might have to check in at a COVID quarantine hotel and isolate there for at least three days, at their own expense of around $2,000. Ouch.
We still have not heard back from any representatives at the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding details of the new rules for incoming travellers. But according to a recent CTV report, public health officials say 5,000 people have isolated at designated quarantine facilities across 11 cities since the pandemic began.
So we visited Pearson to get answers for ourselves, and we were promptly asked to... leave.
There’s a whole new vibe at the airport these days. More security. More police. Less entry and exit points. And supposedly, practicing journalism at the airport is now “dangerous” (the officials there are obsessed with social distancing, even though there wasn’t much of that occurring on Thursday). So, journalism = bad, jihadism = OK. (As chronicled previously, the authorities aren’t all that concerned anymore with enforcing the no-fly rule regarding convicted terrorist Omar Khadr. He can jet off whenever he wants to.)
Alas, even after being threatened with a trespassing charge(!), we held our ground and interviewed exiting passengers. Only one passenger, a student, was told he had to go to a quarantine hotel (and at the discounted rate of only $1,000). Others were told they could quarantine at home. And hundreds of migrant labourers flying in from Mexico went directly onto buses that were scheduled to take them to farm country. (Where, we presume, they will quarantine. Maybe...)
Bottom line, there’s a lot of confusion, intimidation and a dearth of transparency and straight talk at the airport these days. Travellers beware...