But then his father tested positive for COVID-19, leaving him trapped in a hospital in Ottawa.
She decided to board a plane from Toronto to Ottawa on April 1 so that she could arrive in time to see him for the last time, even if it meant wearing protective gear.
“I let go of everything to fly to say goodbye,” she said. “I think the hardest part was not being able to touch him with your bare hands or hug him. I had gloves and touched it, but it was not the same. “
The social distance on the round trip flight was significant, she said.
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Coroy’s father died of COVID-19 the day after his arrival.
Liese Conoy flew to Ottawa on April 1 to say goodbye to her father. Photo provided by Liese Conoy.
Traveling has become one of the many routine activities that now look like a foreign concept since the coronavirus spread around the world.
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But some Canadians are still flying during the pandemic and the experience is radically different from what it would have been just three months ago.
Airlines have reduced the number of daily operating flights or have suspended flights altogether, such as Porter Airlines and Sunwing. WestJet has laid off almost 6,900 people and reduced its domestic flight capacity by 50%. Air Canada has reduced its international and domestic flight network by 90%, but will allow certain options to resume from June.
Four airports in Canada remain open to travel, including Toronto Pearson, Montréal-Trudeau, Calgary International and Vancouver International. The Canadian government has discouraged all non-essential travel and has instituted the Quarantine Act requiring all travelers to isolate themselves for 14 days if they return from abroad.
Global News has spoken to some who have traveled fairly recently and described a very different travel experience that will likely reflect what others will experience when and if we return to the airports.
“Terribly nervous” to fly
Just before his father died, the doctors told Coroy and other family members that the prognosis seemed dire, and that it was imperative that they travel to Ottawa immediately if they wanted to say goodbye. .
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Under these circumstances, Coroy was already very anxious to fly, even if, before the pandemic, she flew at least twice a month to work.
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“I was terribly nervous,” she said, adding that she arrived ready for the short flight with hand sanitizer and masks. It was strange to be at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, a huge space, with almost nobody around, she said.
“It was so empty that I never saw it that way, even when I landed at two in the morning,” she said, adding that she had stopped to take pictures of the desolation of the airport.
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Upon entering the plane, Coroy said she was upset because the flight attendants told her that social separation would not be possible on the flight, although there were fewer than 15 people on the plane. Even though she was arguing, she said, there were people directly in front of her and behind her.
Coroy says it upset her, especially since her father caught the disease.
“I couldn’t move. the [flight attendant] almost landed me because I wanted to take another seat, “she said.
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Global News asked Air Canada what their social distancing policies are on flights.
The airline made reference to its new CleanCare + program launched on May 15 which involves new policies to ensure the safety of travelers, including “more personal space” in economy class at least until June 30.
Face masks for travelers and PPE for employees are now mandatory on flights and now block the sale of adjacent seats in economy class from May 12, unless you are traveling with a person under the age of 14. Improved cleaning protocols are now in place as well.
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“It was a bittersweet experience, I was so happy to see it [but] hated to see him suffer and was terrified if I did not take extreme care to steal and undress so that I was infected, ”she said.
Coming home, Coroy feared infecting others since she was in the hospital, and she continued to wear a mask and keep her distance. Back in Toronto, she isolated herself for 14 days as a precaution.
In the future, knowing that there would be an adequate social distance not only in the terminal, but also in the plane, would make her comfortable enough to fly again, she said.
Empty airports, no restaurant service
Grace Armstrong, a 26-year-old student who travels to Dalhousie University in Halifax, decided to fly to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to isolate herself with her family instead of being alone.
Armstrong says she has been waiting for a safer time to go to her family since the Canada-US border was closed for non-essential visits. She chose a flight on April 30 hoping that other cleaning and expulsion protocols would be in place by then and she self-isolated two weeks earlier as a precaution, she said.
Although she feels safe enough, she says she was nervous about what it would be like to interact with the Canada-US border during the pandemic and the behavior of other travelers. As a dual citizen, she would be allowed to cross the border.
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“From the start, I have been strict with myself taking precautions and my biggest concern is usually that the people around me don’t do the same,” she said in an email to Global News.
Masks were required at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, where a security officer told her that she was on one of three flights that day. She traveled with Delta Airlines, which notified her by e-mail in advance to bring her own food as shops and restaurants were closed at the airport.
During the flight, antibacterial wipes were distributed, the catering service was canceled, and flight attendants reminded passengers several times to keep their masks, said Armstrong.
It was strange to hear announcements about the flight like “thank you for trusting us” instead of “thank you for flying with us,” she added. Delta also noted that they were doing additional cleaning on the plane and using an additional air purifier, she said.
But she was surprised to find that many at the airport were not wearing masks when she arrived in Detroit, where she made a stopover before reaching Milwaukee.
“Once I was in the United States, maybe 50/50 people were wearing masks. The landing in the United States definitely seemed to have entered a more dangerous area, in particular because the information was broadcast on all televisions to discuss the worsening of the situation, “she said.
Halifax Stanfield Airport without many travelers. Photo provided by Grace Armstrong.
“Emptying airports and having whole rows for yourself is fine, but wearing a mask for 12 hours was not,” she said. “I now understand what health workers mean when they talk about their ears that suffer from wearing a mask all day.”
Arriving in Milwaukee, Armstrong said it was frustrating to have to keep his distance from his family and be isolated from them for 14 days.
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In a few months, her lease will end in Halifax and she will have to go back in time to isolate herself for another 14 days before moving. But if the Wisconsin cases worsen, she says she won’t be coming back to avoid arriving from a severely affected area.
Her confidence in pleasure travel potentially later this year will really depend on the thoroughness of the airlines with their safety measures and the sheer number of cases she wants to go to, she said.
“I don’t want to take unnecessary risks of getting sick or making others sick. In this way, lifting the restrictions makes me less confident when traveling. Where I am now, I reopen despite the increasing number, so it would be irresponsible of me, “she said.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you should know:
Symptoms may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or the flu. Some people may develop a more serious illness. Those most at risk are the elderly and those with serious chronic conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend washing your hands frequently and coughing up your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying at home as much as possible, and keeping two meters away from others if you go out.
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