Winnipeg travellers blast new COVID-19 testing requirements

Ayodele Odeyemi arrived home in Manitoba fully aware of the new restrictions that travellers will soon face. 

Odeyemi’s flight from Minneapolis touched down at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Tuesday evening, the final leg of a journey back from Nigeria.

He had two COVID-19 tests on his cross-Atlantic journey, one in Nigeria and another in the U.S. 

Odeyemi expects he will have to take another within 24-48 hours after returning to Canada, and he said it’s stressful, especially with the emergence of a new variant of concern.

“You’re spending more. You’re going through a whole lot of rigorous stress all because of this new strain, even while you are double vaxxed. You are fully vaxxed and you’re still going to go through it,” Odeyemi told CBC.

There are 10 African nations from which the federal government has banned foreign travellers, adding Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria to the list on Tuesday, in the wake of the discovery of the omicron variant, which has surfaced in parts of Canada.

The federal government has also said all travellers arriving in Canada — except from the U.S. — will be required to take a COVID test regardless of vaccination status. This will be followed by a mandatory quarantine period until the result of the test is known.

Odeyemi said Ottawa’s announcement has “jeopardized the essence of vacation.”

He worries this could lead to a return to highly restricted international travel.

“Those who are not vaccinated are now like, ‘Yeah, see we told you.’ Now what’s the difference between those who are vaxxed and those who are not vaxxed?” he said.

“You can’t travel no more. The way things are going, it might go back to mid-2020 and nobody knows what to expect.”

Lawyer blasts new rules

He made it back to Canada before the new testing mandate comes into effect but Robert Tapper had to break the news to his wife that she will not be joining him down in Cozumel, Mexico.

The Winnipeg lawyer called the new travel rules “nonsense” and “hideously stupid.”

“It is absolutely impermissible to pass a law or legal ordinant that is different for different people across the country,” Tapper told CBC from his home in Mexico.

Tapper’s wife was scheduled to join him for the last week-and-a-half of his trip, but she had to cancel her trip. Tapper spent 90 minutes on the phone making alternate travel arrangements for himself.

“We can’t risk being isolated somewhere else. We have a puppy at home,” he said.

Winnipeg lawyer Robert Tapper is having to fly back from Mexico five days earlier in order to adhere to the impending new travel requirements for all travellers entering Canada. He calls the new rules “hideously stupid.” (Zoom)

Instead of flying back from Mexico on Dec. 19 and arriving in Winnipeg the next day ahead of court hearings he has to attend, Tapper is now scheduled to fly into Toronto on Dec. 14 and land in Winnipeg two days later.

He has booked a hotel at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport because he will have to isolate upon returning to Canada until results of his COVID test are known.

Already triple vaccinated, Tapper expects he will test negative on both his tests on Dec. 14. He is required to take one before leaving Cozumel and another that same day in Toronto.

“It has utterly nothing to do with the Western world and in particular with islands like the island of Cozumel,” Tapper said of the omicron variant. 

“It’s safer than Winnipeg.”

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