#Canada; #TravelAbroad;#Covid19Crisis; #Covid19Testing
Canada/Canadian-Media: Not heeding the government advice to stay home even during the worsening of the COVID 19 crisis, thousands of Canadians are boarding international flights to sunny destinations, media reports said.
Canadians on International flights. Image credit: Unsplash
More than 1,500 flights between Canada and 18 popular vacation destinations since Oct. 1 have been operated by Canadian air carriers in spite of the repeated warnings by federal government to avoid all "non-essential travel" outside the country.
"I try not to judge people. Everyone's got their reasons," he said. "Maybe they need, you know, some kind of stress relief," said Raywat Deonandan, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Ottawa, CBC News reported.
Last week a new requirement was imposed by Canada asking all inbound travelers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Those tests are not 100 percent reliable, say the experts and that people should not assume their exposure abroad is uncontrollable.
"You cannot control who is in the airplane with you. You can't control the nature and the environment of the airport when you arrive. You can't control the hygienic quality of the taxi that you take from the airport to your destination," said Deonandan, who implored Canadians to think of the common good before travelling abroad.
"It is a steep, steep gamble that I don't think is worth taking," he said.
#BritishColumbia; #EmergencyDoctor; #SurgeInTravelers; #Ontario; #Quebec; #TravelBan
British Columbia/Canadian-Media: Dr. Annie Gareau, an emergency physician at Whistler Health Care Centre in B.C. told Radio-Canada about her concern after seeing a surge in the number of patients from Ontario and Quebec with surging COVID-19 transmission under control, over the holidays, and is calling on the B.C. government to contain travel from other provinces.
Travel ban. Image credit: Unsplash
"We have a limited capacity. Our waiting room is small, so definitely at one point in time between Christmas and New Year's it was unsettling the amount of patients that were in the clinic," she said.
"I think we need to do like the Atlantic provinces did and I think we need to restrict inter-provincial travel until the numbers are going down."
This was in spite of a public health advisory that was put in place across B.C. since Nov. 19 cautioning against all non-essential travel.
"I would say the majority of patients that came to the clinic between Christmas and New Year were not Whistlerites. The majority were from the Lower Mainland," Gareau said and added,
"And then — surprising and worrying — was a lot of people from out of province, mainly Ontario and Quebec."
Following the advice of the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that skiers should stick to their local slopes, some ski resorts have canceled reservations from non-local visitors.
As of Tuesday, a total of 162 cases of COVID-19 were reported by Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna, according to Interior Health.
Representatives of the B.C. health ministry have not yet responded to calls for stricter travel regulations.
#Canada; #CanadaTravelAgencies; #TavelCommission; #RefundTravelers
Canada/Canadian-Media: Travel agents across Canada have been asked by travel companies to repay earned commissions in order to refund their customers to for trips cancelled due to COVID-19, media reports said.
Association of Canadian Travel Agencies. Image credit: acta.ca
Some agents are being asked to repay as much as $50,000 to airlines and tour companies, said Ontario-based Judith Coates, one of the travel adviser and founders of the Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) said.
"It is impossible for us to pay back money that we do not have because we're not even earning a living, not to mention the fact that it was money that was earned and has been taxed in some cases — because it was paid in 2019 and it's been spent," said Coates.
Canada's the federal government is being called by the ACITA for a bailout, as Coates said that larger commissions are usually earned on trip packages, like destination weddings and not individual flights.
Coates said about 200 travel agencies in Ontario have closed their doors for good, and there's fear more will be gone forever if the federal government doesn't step in with a bailout.
Coates agents are reluctant to withdraw money from their earned commissions, which are placed in trust accounts.
Coates added if there isn't enough cash in the trust account, the company will take the money out of future bookings, which leaves the agents with little incentive to do any more business with companies.
Cordy said she's paid back $6,000 so far so her clients can get refunds, but she stands to lose as much as $20,000 if all her commissions on her other bookings are recalled.
#Canada; #EnhancedScreeings; #UKTravellersArrivingInCanada; #CoronavirusNewStrain
Canada/Canadian-Media: Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Dec 22 during a press briefing that increased steps are being taken by Canada to screen travelers from the United Kingdom, and from other countries over coronavirus concerns.
Canada Border Service Agency. Image credit: Twitter handle
“Enhanced screening has been put in place at all Canadian airports at all points of entrance for travelers who may be arriving from the UK indirectly,” Blair said during press briefing.
Around 40 countries have banned travel to and from the United Kingdom in recent days over the discovery of a new, potentially more transmissible strain of the coronavirus concentrated in capital city London and England’s south east.
Identification of a new strain of coronavirus as VUI-202012/01 a week ago, believed to be more easily transmitted than previously identified strains was found in roughly 1,000 individuals in southeast England, said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
All the travelers who have been in the UK in the past 14 days are being referred to Public Health Agency of Canada at both land and airports of entry, said Blair.
Border to all flights from the UK had recently been closed by Canada, which has also been advised by Bill to take enhanced measures to screen all international travelers entering Canada.
#AviationRecovery; #Africa; #ICAO-COVID19Response
Montréal/Canadian-Media: Speaking at a special online event organized by the African Union (AU) to commemorate the Yamoussoukro Decision, ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu declared that the recovery of African air services should be encouraged through further liberalization and intra-regional resilience, aided by ICAO’s COVID-19 response resources.
“Prior to the onset of the pandemic, African aviation was poised to become one of the fastest growing air transport markets in the world. The overall sector supported some seven million jobs, and generated over 72 billion dollars each year in gross domestic product (GDP) on this continent,” Dr. Liu said.
“To help restore these significant and positive benefits to African prosperity, current priorities should focus on the establishment of effective contingency policies and regulations.”
The Secretary General highlighted the work of the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART), and its aviation response and recover “Take-Off Guidelines” which were fully endorsed by the AU Commission High Level Task Force on the Restart and Recovery of Aviation in Africa earlier this year.
Reflecting the rapid progression of science and understanding, Dr. Liu highlighted that new CART Phase II revisions were endorsed by the ICAO Council earlier this week.
Drawing reference to the event’s focus, and the significance of the Yamoussoukro Decision and improved intra-regional and international liberalization, Dr. Liu emphasized that “ICAO traffic data is revealing that regions which feature higher levels of intra-regional traffic are recovering more quickly. We are seeing this playing out now in the Asia-Pacific, and it goes without saying that the more comprehensive realization of the Yamoussoukro Decision, notably through increased participation by African States in the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), will accelerate these dynamics here.”
This SAATM is a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063, and is designed to advance the liberalization of air transport and act as an impetus to the continent’s economic integration agenda. It seeks to ensure that aviation can fulfil its potential in connecting Africa by promoting improved socio-economic integration and enhanced tourism and trade.
“I would encourage African countries’ proactive pursuit of Public Health Corridors and other near-term travel bubble solutions, as these can also increase public confidence in air travel when prudently and effectively established,” the Secretary General remarked.
“ICAO has provided extensive information to States on how to establish these corridors, and important advice for countries on how to promote the mutual recognition of public health measures through bilateral and multilateral agreements.”
Stressing that Africa’s commitments to a Single African Sky “connect this continent and assure the growth and prosperity of its countries and communities,” Dr. Liu highlighted the significance of the Project Implementation Agreement (PIA) between ICAO and AFCAC, which will be formalized in the near future.
This agreement sets out provisions of the Institutional Support Project financed by the African Development Fund (ADF), and will help accelerate SAATM implementation by providing targeted and measurable assistance to applicable States.
Concluding her remarks, the Secretary General expressed her confidence in the future of aviation in Africa.
The AU virtual event address was attended by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Togo, Her Excellency Victoire Tomegah Dogbe. Also in attendance were the Commissioner of Infrastructure, Energy and Transport, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid; and the leadership of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), and ACI Africa.
#Ottawa; #PublicTransit; #FreeWiFiOnGoTransit; #FreeWiFiPlus
Ottawa, Sep 28 (Canadian-Media): With its commitment to improving public transit across the province, Ontario government is offering free Wi-Fi, beginning Sep 28 for passengers on all GO buses and approximately 50 percent of GO trains, media reports said.
GO Transit. Image credit: Wikipedia
Once connected to GO Wi-Fi Plus, a user-friendly portal offering free Wi-Fi, GO Transit riders will get 10MB of data per trip, for a four-hour period, to access free Wi-Fi as well as a variety of unlimited entertainment content such as TV shows, audiobooks, e-books, music, podcasts, etc.
Even more data of 50 MB per trip would be provided to riders signing in with registered PRESTO accounts.
"More than 80 per cent of GO customers named Wi-Fi as their most desired amenity, and our government is committed to make life easier for the people of Ontario by keeping commuters connected throughout their journey," Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation said Sept 28 in a press release.
"This initiative will make an important difference as it will help people work more efficiently, finish school projects or get important news and updates from family and friends."
Metrolinx has partnered with Icomera Canada Inc., a global leader in providing wireless Internet connectivity for public transit, to connect all 1,399 GO buses and trains to Wi-Fi.
GO trains' full rollout of GO Wi-Fi Plus is expected to be completed in early 2021.
"With hundreds of entertainment options to choose from, GO Wi-Fi Plus is more than just Wi-Fi, and will make the onboard experience even more convenient and enjoyable for customers," Metrolinx President and CEO Phil Verster said Sep 28 in a news release. "We are so excited to bring GO Wi-Fi Plus to our customers on our buses and trains."
#India; #UNEP; #IndianRailways; #TERI; #GreeningTheRailways
India/UNEP, Sep 5 (Canadian-Media): Serving over 8 billion passengers annually, the Indian railroad network is one of the largest and most intricate in the world, UNEP reports said.
But moving billions of people over tens of thousands of kilometers of rail every year is no small feat – it requires enormous amounts of energy, even though passenger-mile emissions are much lower than vehicle traffic.
India's Railway Network. Unsplash
India’s transport sector contributes to 12% of the country’s GHG emissions [Biennial Update Report to UNFCCC 2018], with railways accounting for about 4 per cent of that. To reduce overall emissions from transportation, India committed to increase the amount of freight moved by Indian Railways from about 35 per cent in 2015 to 45 per cent by 2030.
The Indian Government has been working on greening the railways, with over half of the network electrified, and a target to electrify the entire network in the next 3-4 years. Electrification would introduce a more centralized, efficient power system in lieu of higher emitting diesel engines.
In July 2020, Indian Railways went even further, announcing that the national transportation system will be a net zero carbon emitter by 2030. This would mean eliminating emissions of 7.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year, about the same as two coal power plants.
“Due to economic development and increased consumption, there is an increasing demand on the resources,” said Vinod Kumar Yadav, Chairman of the Railways Board. “We need to take care of the environmental concerns along with the economic development to ensure sustainability. Indian Railways has embarked on a mission to improve energy efficiency and replace fossil fuel sources with renewable energy sources like solar and wind to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.”
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has long supported the Indian Railways’ efforts. In July, UNEP led a capacity building programme for Indian Railways management and staff on sustainability and green economy. The training was conducted under the UNEP-led Partnership for Action on Green Economy with support of the National Academy of Indian Railways.
Over 60 participants joined the week-long training to learn how to incorporate sustainable public procurement, green buildings, waste management, and biodiversity and conservation into green initiatives at Indian Railways. Participants ranged from upper management to entry-level officials and included representatives from training institutes who will become Master Trainers. This is the first time this type of interactive virtual training programme has been deployed for an organization of this size and environmental footprint.
Atul Bagai, Head of UNEP’s India Office, said, “India’s rail network has long been an integral part of the country’s societal fabric. Greening the railways not only is vital to achieve the Government’s climate objectives but is also an important symbol of India’s environmental initiative. UNEP is proud to assist these efforts through trainings like this and other support.”
Speaking about the training, Yadav said, “Capacity building of officials across all levels is key for achieving the vision of Indian Railways. I look forward to further collaboration between Indian Railways and UNEP in this endeavor.”
With more people and more freight set to ride the rails as India’s economy grows, it will be more important than ever to ensure that the future of India’s renowned rail network is sustainable.
Emissions from power generation are only one part of the equation. Indian Railways is also looking to make stations and installations green certified. Over 100 water treatment and recycling plants have been established.
And, in a unique development, the railroad operator has fitted long-distance coaches with bio tanks to deal with human waste from passengers. In the tank, waste is digested by bacteria, which release innocuous gases and wastewater that is treated before discharge. Along with reducing effluent and providing health and hygiene benefits, a study carried out by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) found that these bio tanks may prevent emissions of up to 155 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually.
#UN; #Covid19; #Tourism; #SustainableTourism; #UNTWO
UN, Aug 30 (Canadian-Media): The Policy Brief “COVID-19 and Transforming Tourism”, was launched this week by the United Nations Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, UNTWO reports said.
Tranforming tourism in response to Covid19. Image credit: UNEP
This landmark report makes clear what is at stake – the threat of losing tens of millions of direct tourism jobs, the loss of opportunities for those vulnerable populations and communities who stand to benefit most from tourism, and the real risk of losing vital resources for safeguarding natural and cultural heritage across the world.
Tourism needs to thrive, and this means that travel restrictions must be eased or lifted in a timely and responsible manner. It also means that policy decisions need to be coordinated across borders to face up to a challenge which does not care about borders! “COVID-19 and Transforming Tourism” is a further element in the roadmap for the sector to regain its unique status as a source of hope and opportunity for all.
Sustainable tourism. Image credit: Pinterest.ca
This is true for both developing and developed nations, and all governments and international organizations have a stake in supporting tourism.
But we can only call on governments to back up strong words with equally strong actions if we move first and take the lead. As destinations open up again, we are resuming in-person visits, to show support, to learn, and to build confidence in international travel.
On the back of our successful visits to destinations in Europe, UNWTO delegations are now seeing first-hand how the Middle East is ready to restart tourism safely and responsibly.
In Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his government made clear how strong, targeted support, has saved jobs and allowed tourism to weather this unprecedented storm. Now iconic sites such as the Pyramids are ready to welcome back tourists, with the safety of both tourism workers and tourists themselves a priority. Similarly, the government of Saudi Arabia has warmly welcomed UNWTO and expressed a firm commitment to continue building the Kingdom’s tourism sector, first for domestic visitors and then international visitors.
The pandemic is far from over. As cases across the world make clear, we must be ready to act fast to save lives. But it also now also clear that we can also take decisive action to protect jobs and safeguard the many benefits tourism delivers, both for people and planet.
#AB; #WestJet; #SafetyUpdates; #MandatoryMasks
Calgary (AB), Aug 28 (Canadian-Media): Multiple safety updates were announced Aug 28 by the WestJet Group, which includes WestJet, WestJet Encore, WestJet Link and Swoop, including the potential for denied travel and a one-year WestJet Group travel ban for those who fail to comply with the airlines' mask regulation.
WestJet: Image credit: Official site
Effective Sept. 1, 2020, Westjet will implement an escalating response to those resisting mask use.
WestJet has till date encountered about 30 issues with passengers refusing to wear a face covering.
Everyone over the age of two is required by Transport Canada to wear a mask on board all flights with the exception of those with an official doctor's note are exempt from mandatory masking.
"Canadian travellers and all of our WestJet Group employees are counting on us to keep them safe and it is our utmost priority to do so," said Ed Sims, The WestJet Group President and CEO in a news release. "Masks are mandated by our regulator and the vast majority of our guests are happy to keep themselves and each other safe by complying. This enhanced policy provides clarity on how we will enforce the regulation for those who don't. Travellers must understand if they choose to not wear a mask, they are choosing not to fly our airlines."
The WestJet Group also announced that effective Sept 1, the input of contact information of check-in of all guests is mandatory at online and kiosk to facilitate Public Health Agency of Canada and the provincial public health agencies across Canada with contact tracing in the case of infected individuals on board.
"We continue to work collaboratively with our health partners to adapt our procedures," added Sims in a news release. "A coordinated approach is essential, and we are advocating for contact tracing enhancements along with the introduction of testing."
#Quebec; #Tourism; #liftingBansOnFestivals; #ComplianceWithHealthAuthorities
Quebec, Aug. 5 (Canadian-Media): Quebec's Minister of Tourism, Caroline Proulx announced Aug 5 lifting of the cancellation of festivals and events for all regions of Quebec following Quebec government's proclamation to allow a maximum of 250 people for outdoor gatherings, media reports said.
Caroline Proulx. Image credit: Twitter Handle
Organizers of the festivals and events will be able to resume their activities as of Aug 5 subject to their compliance with the directives of the public health authorities of allowing 250 as maximum number of people on the outdoor site and maintenance of a distance of 2 meters between participants who do not reside at the same address.
Festival and event organizers will also be able to hold indoor events for up to 250 people, as authorized by public health since August 3, and will have to comply with sanitary measures and other guidelines related to these activities.
This announcement marks an important first step for the relaunch of the tourism sector in Quebec as well as the economy of all its regions.
“This is great news for festival and event organizers as well as for workers, artists and all businesses related to this sector. Since the start of this crisis, our promoters have shown remarkable resilience and creativity. Today, we support them in restarting their activities, while ensuring everyone's safety by means of clear guidelines. Festival and event planners are professionals in managing gatherings, and I have no doubts that this takeover will be done responsibly," said Proulx in a news release.