Even Ottawa’s own experts think Canada’s COVID border checks are absurd –

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Even Ottawa’s own experts think Canada’s COVID border checks are absurd – fr


In countries that cannot, do not want or do not want to pursue a COVID ‘elimination strategy’ – Canada is the three – the panel does not see the point of a proper hotel quarantine

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On the issue of overseas travel during the COVID-19 era, there have been two dominant media accounts in Canada. There was “overseas travel doesn’t matter and it is wrong to suggest otherwise”; then, briefly, there was “overseas travel is an abomination, let’s lock these horrible people in hotel rooms and charge them ridiculous amounts”. Today, five months after then Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips was discovered lounging in the French West Indies and triggered a moral panic on the farm, we are for most come back to where we were: the border is “a problem”, of course, but it is not “the problem”, and since it is a problem, it is manageable.

To know: On Thursday, the expert advisory committee on testing and screening for COVID-19 recommended a dramatic relaxation of border regulations for international travelers: a shorter quarantine for partially vaccinated travelers, no quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers and the removal of the “mandatory three-day hotel quarantine program” – one that isn’t so mandatory.

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In the preceding months, the time could be one of growing border angst. Cases are on the increase in the UK, although in clusters, apparently driven by the Indian variant, B.1.617. This variant has not yet established itself firmly anywhere in Canada. Canada currently bans flights from India, ostensibly in the name of keeping it away, but not from the UK, which in turn does not ban flights from India.

And yet all is calm.

To be clear, as of Friday, cases in the UK have only ‘jumped’ across the country to an average of 4.7 per 100,000 people per day – about half the current rate of Canada, and a huge drop from the high of 87. Perhaps more and more Canadians realize that vaccines really are the solution and accept that a return to real life is within reach, is just harder to stress. These are all acceptable reasons not to panic about the border.

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But we have to remember how blown the border has been during this pandemic – a job as fundamental to the federal government as health care and long-term care homes are to provincial governments. How on earth were we so overconfident in our most basic anti-pandemic capabilities when – as Auditor General Karen Hogan reported this week – serious issues with the supply of basic PPE had been common knowledge for over a decade. ‘a decade ?

As for the mandatory hotel quarantine program, the polite summary of its performance by the expert advisory committee does more to condemn it like a bureaucrat than anyone (me, for example) could angry. “There are several issues related to government-authorized mandatory housing that merit consideration,” the committee members said. “First, some travelers choose to pay a fine of up to $ 3,000 rather than staying in government-approved accommodation or a designated quarantine facility.”

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Right. This. Embarrassing. In Toronto or Vancouver, you probably won’t get a ticket unless you take a break. In Alberta, which has not adopted the federal Contraventions Act, it is not enforced at all! Police should be laying Criminal Code charges instead of drafting a ticket, and understandably they are not interested: as of mid-May, they had not laid any charges.

The program requires “significant administrative costs and resources”, alleges the panel of experts, and places a “burden” on participants. This makes no sense as a barrier to COVID-19 entering the country, he believes, as it excludes overland travel across the Canada-U.S. Border, which matters. for the vast majority of entries. They were points two to four. My favorite, however, comes last: “Fifth, the hotel quarantine for up to three days is incompatible with the incubation period of SARS-CoV-2. “

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Oh ok. That too: it made no earthly medical sense. It would not be at all uncommon for someone recently infected with COVID-19 to test negative to board the plane, and then again on arrival – and upon receipt of that latest result, to be free to go home. – while still being asymptomatic.

The panel could have suggested strengthening the system, of course, but it went the other way completely and dismissed the whole idea: in countries like New Zealand and Australia pursuing an elimination strategy . In countries that can’t, won’t or won’t – Canada is all three – the implication is, it’s just for the show.

For now, as we bite our lips and hope things continue to improve, all that government pride, incompetence, idiocy and otherwise deeply below par performance is quite naturally put away. in a closet. The return to normal is Job One. But once real life returns, as tempting as it is to put all this ordeal behind us, this closet needs to be unpacked and aired, and its contents autopsied, without delay. Many must respond.

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