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17 minutes ago, Kasey said:

And this from Australia........

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-58066390

I've been watching Australia fairly closely and they are taking absolutely draconian measures in their Covid lockdowns and fines!

I shouldn't be surprised but it's probably the country that's the closest to a police state in the "free" world.

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Going across the border into the US will be interesting ...

U.S. to require travellers to be vaccinated against COVID-19: official

By Zeke Miller  The Associated Press
Posted August 4, 2021 8:16 pm

The Biden administration is taking the first steps toward requiring nearly all foreign visitors to the U.S. to be vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official said Wednesday.70c8fc80

The requirement would come as part of the administration’s phased approach to easing travel restrictions for foreign citizens to the country. No timeline has yet been determined, as interagency working groups study how and when to safely move toward resuming normal travel. Eventually, all foreign citizens entering the country, with some limited exceptions, are expected to need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the U.S.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the policy under development.

The Biden administration has kept in place travel restrictions that have severely curtailed international trips to the U.S., citing the spread of the delta variant of the virus. Under the rules, non-U.S. residents who have been to China, the European Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India in the prior 14 days are prohibited from entering the U.S.All travelers to the U.S., regardless of vaccination status, are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of air travel to the country.

The Biden administration has faced pressure to lift some restrictions from affected allies, the air travel industry and families who have been kept separated from loved ones by the rules. Many have complained that the travel restrictions don’t reflect the current virus situation — particularly as caseloads in the U.S. are worse than in many of the prohibited nations.

The U.S. currently has not approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use and does not recognize a mix of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine to be fully vaccinated — both of which have been approved by Canadian health officials.

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12 hours ago, Skeptic said:

Going across the border into the US will be interesting ...

U.S. to require travellers to be vaccinated against COVID-19: official

By Zeke Miller  The Associated Press
Posted August 4, 2021 8:16 pm

The Biden administration is taking the first steps toward requiring nearly all foreign visitors to the U.S. to be vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official said Wednesday.70c8fc80

The requirement would come as part of the administration’s phased approach to easing travel restrictions for foreign citizens to the country. No timeline has yet been determined, as interagency working groups study how and when to safely move toward resuming normal travel. Eventually, all foreign citizens entering the country, with some limited exceptions, are expected to need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the U.S.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview the policy under development.

The Biden administration has kept in place travel restrictions that have severely curtailed international trips to the U.S., citing the spread of the delta variant of the virus. Under the rules, non-U.S. residents who have been to China, the European Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and India in the prior 14 days are prohibited from entering the U.S.All travelers to the U.S., regardless of vaccination status, are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of air travel to the country.

The Biden administration has faced pressure to lift some restrictions from affected allies, the air travel industry and families who have been kept separated from loved ones by the rules. Many have complained that the travel restrictions don’t reflect the current virus situation — particularly as caseloads in the U.S. are worse than in many of the prohibited nations.

The U.S. currently has not approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use and does not recognize a mix of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine to be fully vaccinated — both of which have been approved by Canadian health officials.

The U.S. currently has not approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for use and does not recognize a mix of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine to be fully vaccinated — both of which have been approved by Canadian health officials.

 

Another big mess our inept federal government has put the canadian public in the middle of.

 

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59 minutes ago, AIP said:

Another big mess our inept federal government has put the canadian public in the middle of.

Hi AIP;

Well, some other country's rulings are certainly confusing but isn't this hindsight? At the time, the best vaccine, first & second, was the one in your arm, and given the efficacy of every one that Canada approved, one took what was available in the early days, (March '21, etc.), instead of rolling dice, so to speak.

I agree it makes no sense, but how would one be able to anticipate what other countries were going to do? Who knew that some countries would later view both mRNA vaccines as somehow "different", for example?

I certainly have views on such a decision as any travel plans we may ultimately make will be affected, but at the time, (June '21), only one mRNA type was available and there was no information on when the next shipment of the "same" vaccine was coming.

Time and protection was of the essence and we are thankful to be fully vaccinated. I think such a Pfizer/Moderna restriction isn't going to last once sufficient data is in on mRNA vaccines.

The ineptness was early on, when Canada was gazzumpted by other countries but that was then and this is now; - at present we're #1 of the vaccinated nations.

From the Seattle Times, originally from the NYTimes:

Quote

Should I mask? Can I travel? What about hugs? How delta is changing advice for the vaccinated
Aug. 4, 2021 at 5:15 pm Updated Aug. 4, 2021 at 6:11 pm


Airplanes are typically well ventilated and not a major source of outbreaks. The potential for exposure to an infected person may be even higher in the terminal, sitting in airport restaurants and bars, or going through the security line.

By Tara Parker-Pope
The New York Times

For the vaccinated, it was supposed to be a worry-free, “hot vax” summer of socializing and fun. But the rise of the highly infectious delta variant has spoiled those plans.

While the vaccines remain remarkably protective against COVID-19, especially against serious illness, headlines about breakthrough infections and new recommendations that vaccinated people should sometimes wear masks have left many people confused and worried.

While new research shows vaccinated people can become infected and carry high levels of the coronavirus, it’s important to remember that those cases are rare, and it’s primarily the unvaccinated who get infected and spread the virus.

“If you’re vaccinated, you’ve done the most important thing for you and your family and friends to keep everyone safe,” Gregg Gonsalves, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, said. “There’s substantially more freedom for people who are vaccinated, but the idea that everything is the same as the summer of 2019 is not the case.”

If I’m vaccinated, why do I need to worry about delta?

No vaccine offers 100% protection. Think of vaccine antibodies like a sea wall designed to protect a town from a storm surge, says Erin Bromage, a comparative immunologist and biology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. Most of the time, the wall stands up to the pounding waves, but a hurricane might be forceful enough to allow some water to get through. Compared with earlier forms of the virus, delta is like a viral hurricane; it’s far more infectious and presents a bigger challenge to even a vaccinated immune system.

“Vaccinations give you that extra protection you wouldn’t normally have,” Bromage said. “But when you hit a big challenge, like getting near an unvaccinated person who has a high viral load, that wall is not always going to hold.”

The good news is the current crop of vaccines available in the United States is doing a remarkable job of protecting people from serious illness, hospitalization and death. More than 97% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. And new data from Singapore shows that even when vaccinated patients are hospitalized with delta breakthrough infections, they are far less likely to need supplemental oxygen, and they clear the virus faster compared with unvaccinated patients.

What’s the real risk of a breakthrough infection after vaccination?

Breakthrough infections make headlines, but they remain uncommon. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped tracking all breakthrough cases in May, about half of all states report at least some data on breakthrough events. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently analyzed much of the state-reported data and found that breakthrough cases, hospitalizations and deaths are extremely rare events among those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The rate of breakthrough cases reported among those fully vaccinated is “well below 1% in all reporting states, ranging from 0.01% in Connecticut to 0.29% in Alaska,” according to the Kaiser analysis.

But many breakthrough infections are probably never reported because people who are infected don’t have symptoms or have mild symptoms that end before the person even thinks about being tested.

“Breakthrough infections are pretty rare, but unless we have a population-based sample we don’t know the level of rarity,” said Dr. Asaf Bitton, executive director of Ariadne Labs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “A lot of people with mild scratchy throat for a couple days may have had them, but we don’t know. It’s not a failure of the vaccine that we’re having breakthrough cases. It’s been estimated that we’ve staved off 100,000 to 200,000 deaths since the vaccine campaign started.”

What is clear is that the risk of a breakthrough infection increases the more opportunities you give delta to challenge the wall of protection conferred by your vaccine. Big crowded events — like a July 4 celebration in Provincetown, Massachusetts, or the packed Lollapalooza concert in Chicago — pose a much greater risk that a vaccinated person will cross paths with an infected person carrying a high viral load.

“The more people you put yourself in contact with, the more risk you have, but it also depends on the local climate of risk,” Gonsalves said. “Soon we’ll probably see a Lollapalooza outbreak. All these people crushed together is an ideal situation for the spread of delta.”

When should I wear a mask?

The CDC has a color-coded map of COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States. Blue and yellow zones show relatively low levels of infections, while orange and red zones indicate areas where cases in the past week were above 50 cases per 100,000 people. The agency advises people to wear masks if they live in an orange or red zone — which now accounts for about 80% of the counties in the United States.

Infection numbers remain relatively low in much of the Northeast and Upper Midwest, while delta has caused huge spikes in cases in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida.

The problem with the map is that case counts are changing rapidly and may surge in your local community before the map has changed colors. Even if you’re certain you’re living in a highly vaccinated community with very low case counts, it makes sense to consider the case counts and vaccination rates in nearby communities as well, because people — and viruses — cross state and county boundaries all the time.

Most experts agree that you don’t need to wear a mask outdoors if you’re not in a crowd and have plenty of distance (at least 6 feet) from people whose vaccination status isn’t known. It’s still risky to attend a packed outdoor concert, but if you do, wear a mask.

“I would still suggest wearing a mask if you are indoors with people whose vaccination status you don’t know, especially if you will be within a few feet of them for any amount of time, or if you will be in the room for a long period of time with those people,” said J. Alex Huffman, an aerosol scientist and associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Denver. “I don’t wear a mask indoors in all situations now, because I’m fully vaccinated, but I put my N95 mask on whenever I go into indoor public spaces.”

Should I upgrade my mask?

You will get the most protection from a high-quality medical mask like an N95 or a KN95, although you want to be sure you have the real thing. A KF94 is a high-quality medical mask made in Korea, where counterfeits are less likely. If you don’t have a medical mask, you still get strong protection from double masking with a simple surgical mask under a cloth mask. A mask with an exhale valve should never be worn, since it allows plumes of viral particles to escape, and counterfeit masks may have faulty valves that let germs in.

You may want to pick your mask based on the setting. A cloth mask may be adequate for a quick trip into an empty convenience store in an area with high vaccination rates. But a higher-quality mask makes sense during air travel or in a crowded grocery store, especially in communities where vaccination rates are low and case counts are high. Masks with straps or ties around the back of the head seal more tightly than masks with ear loops.

“All the mitigation efforts we used before need to be better to hold off the delta variant, and this includes masks,” Huffman said. “I strongly encourage people to upgrade their mask to something with high filter quality and something that fits tightly to their face. The No. 1 factor, in my opinion, is to make sure the mask is sealed well all around the edges — over the nose bridge, by the cheeks and under the chin. So any mask that fits tightly is better than almost any loosefitting mask.”

What’s the risk of hanging out with my vaccinated friends and family?

Vaccinated people are at very low risk when they spend time, unmasked, with their vaccinated friends and family members. “I don’t think mask-wearing is critical,” Huffman said. “If you are indoors with a small number of people you know are vaccinated, wearing a mask is low on my list of worries.”

But some circumstances might require extra precautions. While it’s unusual for a vaccinated person to spread the virus to another vaccinated person, it’s theoretically possible. A vaccinated friend who is going to crowded bars, packed concerts or traveling to a COVID hot spot is a bigger risk than someone who avoids crowds and spends most of their time with vaccinated people.

With the delta variant spreading, Bitton suggests an “outdoor first” strategy, particularly for families with unvaccinated children or family members at high risk. If you can take your event outside to a backyard or patio this summer and minimize your time indoors, you lower your risk.

Spending time with smaller groups of vaccinated friends has less risk than attending a big party, even if you believe everyone at the party is vaccinated. If you’re indoors, open the windows to improve ventilation. If someone in the group is at very high risk because of age or because they are immunocompromised, it’s reasonable to ask even vaccinated people to be tested before a visit. A simple rapid home test can even be offered to guests to be sure everyone is COVID-free.

Can I still dine at restaurants?

The answer depends on local conditions, your tolerance for risk and the personal health of those around you. Risk is lowest in communities with high vaccination rates and very low case counts. A restaurant meal in Vermont, where two-thirds of the population is vaccinated, poses less risk than an indoor meal in Alabama or Mississippi, where just one-third of the residents are vaccinated.

Parents of unvaccinated children and people with compromised immune systems, who studies show may get less protection from vaccines, may want to order takeout or dine outdoors as an added precaution.

Is it safe to travel? Should I skip the peanuts and water and keep my mask on?

Airplanes are typically well ventilated and not a major source of outbreaks, but taking precautions is still a good idea. The potential for exposure to an infected person may be even higher in the terminal, sitting in airport restaurants and bars, or going through the security line. In airplanes, air is refreshed roughly every two to three minutes — a higher rate than in grocery stores and other indoor spaces. While airlines still require passengers to wear masks, people are allowed to remove them to drink water or eat.

To prevent air from circulating to everyone throughout the cabin, airplane ventilation systems keep airflow contained to a few rows. As a result, an infected passenger poses the most risk to those sitting in the seats in the immediate area.

Most experts say that they use a high-quality medical mask, like an N95 or KF94, when they fly. If you don’t have one, double masking is advised. For a vaccinated person, the risk of removing a mask briefly to eat or drink during a flight is low, but it’s better to keep it on as much as possible. The CDC says it’s best for unvaccinated people, including children, to avoid flying.

Bromage said he recently traveled by air and took his mask off briefly to drink a beverage, but kept it on for most of the flight. He said he would be more comfortable removing his mask to eat if he knew the people next to him were vaccinated. He said he would be more concerned if the person next to him didn’t seem to care about COVID precautions or wore the mask under the nose. “If you’ve got a random person next to you, especially a chatty person, I’d keep the mask on,” he said.

How safe are buses, subways and trains for vaccinated people?

Most buses, trains and subways still require everyone to wear a mask, which lowers risk. While vaccinated people are well protected, the risk of viral exposure increases the longer the ride and the more crowded the train car or bus. For many people, riding public transit is essential for getting to work or school, and wearing a well-fitted medical mask or double mask is recommended. When public transit is optional, the decision about whether to ride should factor in local vaccination rates and whether case counts are rising.

Can I hug and visit older relatives? What about unvaccinated children?

While it’s generally considered safe for vaccinated people to hug and spend time together unmasked, parents of unvaccinated children have more risks to consider, particularly when visiting older relatives. In communities with low case counts and high vaccination rates, it’s generally considered safe for unvaccinated children from a single household to spend time with vaccinated grandparents. But as the delta variant spreads and children return to school, the risks of close contact also increase for older or immune-compromised people who are more vulnerable to complications from COVID-19, even if they’re vaccinated.

When families plan a visit to a high-risk relative, it’s a good idea to minimize other exposures, avoiding restaurant dining or working out at the gym in the week leading up to the visit. Even though the risk of a vaccinated person spreading COVID-19 remains low, vaccinated grandparents should also reduce their personal exposure when they spend time with unvaccinated children.

“I have not been masking up indoors with my octogenarian parents at this point, because I am still very careful in the way I wear masks in public settings,” Huffman, the aerosol scientist, said. “But if I had more interactions that increased my overall risk of exposure, I would strongly consider masking up when indoors with vulnerable individuals.”

Rapid home tests are an added precaution when visiting grandparents or an immune-compromised family member. Take a test a few days before the visit as well as the day of the visit.

Home tests are “a wonderful option for people with a little more anxiety right now in regards to the virus,” Bromage said. “What we’re doing is buying those, and each and everyone tests before they come together — literally right before we’re together. When everyone is clear, you can enjoy that time together.”

How do I know if I have the delta variant?

If you’re diagnosed in the U.S. with COVID-19, the odds are overwhelming that you have the delta variant. The CDC now estimates that delta accounts for more than 82% of cases in the United States. The delta variant has become dominant in other countries as well. In late July the World Health Organization said delta accounted for 75% or more of the cases in many countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Israel, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the U.K.

That said, standard COVID tests won’t tell you if your infection was caused by the delta variant or another variant of the virus. While health departments may use genomic sequencing to identify levels of different variants in a community, this information typically isn’t shared with individuals. You still need to isolate and seek medical advice if you have low blood oxygen levels, have trouble breathing or have other worrisome symptoms.

 

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On the border opening, Canada has been reduced to America’s guinea pig

RW7WBON43RJZHCRKQALYMBIFXI.jpg

Thu Aug 05, 2021 - The Globe and Mail
by Lawrence Martin

Quote

'Back in June, when the U.S. appeared ready to open, Ottawa put out the word that it needed more time. The opportunity was missed, some believe.'

That sounded like a rather fruitless phone chat between U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the other day.

The two amigos talked sport for a while, including our remarkable women’s soccer team subduing the overdog Americans at the Tokyo Olympics. But they tippy-toed around numerous pachyderms in the room – in particular, how Canada seems to have gotten hoodwinked on opening its border.

Pressured by Washington, Ottawa announced it would open the border to non-essential travel on Aug. 9. The Americans aren’t reciprocating, however, despite giving us the impression all along that they would do so.

Indeed, their boundary could remain closed for several months longer, according to many Americans in the know, even though the COVID-19 infection rate among Canadians is very low. But with the Delta variant surging in their own country, Americans will be able to cross into Canada.

Why the long border stall by the Yanks? “Honestly, we’re scratching our heads,” said Laurie Trautman, director of the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University. “It seemed Homeland Security was ready to open in June.” But it didn’t happen, and now, she said, the administration is dragging its heels.

The delay on their side, several Americans told me, works to their advantage. “They want to wait and see how the Canadian border opening goes,” said Scotty Greenwood, head of the Canadian American Business Council, “before making up their minds on when to open.”

In other words, Canada now gets to play the role of guinea pig.

Often, the analogy proffered for the two countries’ relationship is that of the elephant and the mouse. Now, it’s that tailless South American rodent frequently used as a specimen for laboratory research.

One hopes that the Prime Minister bluntly raised the matter with the President. But from the readout of their conversation, apparently no abusive epithets were hurled.

A possible explanation for the boundary blockage is that the U.S. hasn’t yet agreed upon a method of screening incoming Canadians. But you’d think they would have done that months ago, said Ms. Greenwood, a North Carolinian.

Another rationale for the delay could be that, with the Delta variant outbreak, the U.S. is now more preoccupied with its own problems. “Domestic politics are the priority,” said Kathryn Bryk Friedman, a Canada-U.S. specialist at the University of Buffalo. “Here in Buffalo, the surge is very serious. There will likely be a masking mandate soon.”

It could also be that there are “too many cooks in the kitchen,” as Ms. Trautman put it. There are about five agencies dealing with COVID-19 issues, and it’s taking forever to get a consensus.

Additionally, there’s the problem of needing to co-ordinate with Mexico. Opening one border without doing the same for the other presents potential legal and other difficulties.

Back in June, when the U.S. appeared ready to open, Ottawa put out the word that it needed more time. The opportunity was missed, some believe.

Even with Mr. Biden replacing Donald Trump, there has been no progress for Canada on its priorities, including the border, the continued detention of two Canadians in China in retaliation for executing the U.S.’s extradition request of a Huawei executive, and the strong Buy America laws Mr. Biden is dead serious about implementing.

Bruce Anderson, chairman of Abacus Data, said he doesn’t expect U.S. relations to figure prominently in the upcoming Canadian election. That said, Mr. Trudeau would have appreciated the like-minded liberal President throwing him a bone or two before the election is called.

The difficulty, said Ms. Greenwood, is that while Mr. Biden “wants to treat our allies better, he has to reassure American workers he is standing up for them.”

But Canadians shouldn’t worry about this President, said James Roosevelt, co-chair of the Democratic National Committee and the grandson of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Mr. Biden will restore Canada’s confidence in the United States, he said in an interview; the border will be opened and any American protectionism – exemplified in the administration’s mammoth infrastructure program – “will not be done blindly or drastically.”

Mr. Roosevelt, who is currently heading up a group pushing Mr. Biden to go full out on a new New Deal, recalled how his grandfather carved out a close relationship with Prime Minister Mackenzie King that greatly benefitted both. Mr. Biden, he said, shares many of FDR’s qualities as a progressive but “not radical Democrat.”

Progress on bilateral issues has also been impaired by the extended absence of a U.S. ambassador in Ottawa. But Mr. Biden last month named David Cohen, a telecom executive and Democratic fundraiser, to the post. With his close ties to Mr. Biden, he will have the ear of the White House.
 

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23 hours ago, Don Hudson said:

Hi AIP;

Well, some other country's rulings are certainly confusing but isn't this hindsight? At the time, the best vaccine, first & second, was the one in your arm, and given the efficacy of every one that Canada approved, one took what was available in the early days, (March '21, etc.), instead of rolling dice, so to speak.

I agree it makes no sense, but how would one be able to anticipate what other countries were going to do? Who knew that some countries would later view both mRNA vaccines as somehow "different", for example?

I certainly have views on such a decision as any travel plans we may ultimately make will be affected, but at the time, (June '21), only one mRNA type was available and there was no information on when the next shipment of the "same" vaccine was coming.

Time and protection was of the essence and we are thankful to be fully vaccinated. I think such a Pfizer/Moderna restriction isn't going to last once sufficient data is in on mRNA vaccines.

The ineptness was early on, when Canada was gazzumpted by other countries but that was then and this is now; - at present we're #1 of the vaccinated nations.

From the Seattle Times, originally from the NYTimes:

 

Respectfully Don, in my mind this simply goes back to procurement.

Had Canada not been so eager to try and obtain the chinese vaccine and made deals for Pfizer and Moderna sooner, we wouldn't be in tis mess.

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Federal government to require vaccinations for all federal public servants, air and train passengers

Quote

Starting soon, all commercial air travellers and passengers on interprovincial trains and large marine vessels with overnight accommodations (such as cruise ships) will have to be vaccinated, Alghabra said.

'We need to reach as many Canadians as we possibly can'

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  • 2 weeks later...
6 hours ago, st27 said:

And for those looking forward to Florida this winter, let’s hope this is a temporary blip:

Even fully vaccinated I wouldn't be keen to go. 

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Then there's this..............

 

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-eu-countries-recommend-removing-us-from-safe-travel-list-because-of-rise-in-cases-12395374

Countries in Europe should reinstate restrictions on tourists from the United States because of risking coronavirus cases, the European Union has recommended on Monday. 

The decision by the European Council to remove the United States from a safe list of countries for non-essential travel, reverses advice from June when the bloc lifted restrictions on travellers before the summer.

The guidance could come as early as this week, according to EU diplomats.

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And now we have the pot calling the kettle black ....

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/08/30/covid-19-coronavirus-updates-toronto-canada-august-30.html

The U.S. State Department is now urging Americans to "reconsider travel" to Canada due to what the Centers for Disease Control call "high" levels of COVID-19 infection.

The new Level 3 travel advisory, issued today, marks a quick end to a three-week period when the warning to would-be travellers to Canada had been eased to "exercise increased caution."

That Level 2 advisory coincided with Canada's decision to allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents back into the country.

There was no specific reason given for the revised advisory beyond the CDC's notice, also issued today, which pegs Canada's current COVID-19 levels at "high."

Only about 61 per cent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, compared with nearly 75 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12.

The U.S. is maintaining its existing restrictions on non-essential Canadian travellers until at least Sept. 21, citing the ongoing spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Qantas To Ban Unvaccinated Travelers On International Flights

The boss of Qantas, Alan Joyce, has confirmed that the airline will not allow unvaccinated passengers to travel with it internationally. Qantas is eyeing a mid-December restart for international flying, and has already run a successful incentive program to encourage its passengers to vaccinate.

Dreaming of jetting off on Qantas? Better make sure you’re vaccinated. 

No vaccine, no fly

As mooted by the airline’s CEO last year, Qantas has confirmed plans to refuse carriage of those who have not had the full course of vaccination against COVID. Speaking at the Trans-Tasman Business Circle this week, as reported by Traveller, CEO Alan Joyce said,

“Qantas will have a policy that internationally we’ll only be carrying vaccinated passengers. Because we think that’s going to be one of the requirements to show that you’re flying safe and getting into those countries. We’re hoping that can happen by Christmas.”

Joyce has long taken a hard line on the vaccination debate. The airline has already made it clear that it wants to make vaccination mandatory for its 22,000 workers, a move that is reportedly welcomed by staff. Frontline staff working in both Qantas and Jetstar are expected to be double vaccinated by mid-November, while office-based workers have until the end of March to get their shots.

Qantas To Ban Unvaccinated Travelers On International Flights - Simple Flying


 
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Summer travel surge has WestJet and Air Canada asking for volunteer help

From CBC News – link to source story

Passenger traffic has reached its highest point since pandemic began

Kyle Bakx · CBC News · September 16, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has ground an unprecedented number of flights in Canada and around the world. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

A surge in summer travel across the country has forced Canada’s two biggest airlines to ask staff to help volunteer at airports to overcome staffing challenges — a move that is creating pushback from unions.

In an email to all employees, WestJet described how the rapid growth in passenger numbers is causing operational problems at several airports, including its flagship airport in Calgary.

The “growing pains of recovery requires all-hands-on-deck,” read the message, which included an open call for any staff members to sign up to volunteer to help guests requiring wheelchair assistance at the Calgary International Airport.

Meanwhile, Air Canada has needed extra personnel at Toronto’s Pearson airport since “airport partners are stretched beyond their capacity, which led to significant flight cancellations and missed connections,” read an internal memo.

In late August and early September, air passenger traffic reached its highest point since the pandemic began. The increase in business is critical to the aviation industry, which was devastated early on in the crisis as many countries restricted international travel.

The industry is not immune to the staffing challenges faced by many sectors as lockdowns started to lift; airlines continue to cope with changing government restrictions, while also following a variety of COVID-19 protocols at domestic and international airports.

In the U.S., American Airlines and Delta Air Lines also asked staff to volunteer at airports this summer.

At Toronto’s Pearson, the international arrival process can take up to three hours, as passengers are screened by Canada Border Services Agency and Public Health Agency of Canada agents, collect bags and possibly take a COVID-19 test.

“As the technology for sharing and displaying vaccine documents improves, passengers become more comfortable with the new process and vaccine-driven changes in border protections take effect, we hope to see further improvement in wait-time conditions in the terminals,” a Pearson spokesperson said in an email statement, which highlighted other steps to reduce delays.https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/mrCsu/1/

Union objections

But several unions have advised their members to avoid volunteering for a variety of reasons.

CUPE, which represents flight attendants at WestJet, declined to comment. However, in a letter, it told members that “the company is imploring you to provide free, volunteer and zero-cost labour. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.”

The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents WestJet’s pilots, also declined to comment. But in a message to members, it highlighted how “if you are injured doing this work, you may not be covered by our disability insurer.”

Unifor, which represents customer service agents at both of Canada’s major airlines, said its members were upset about the call for volunteers and the union wasn’t happy that there wasn’t any advanced warning or conversation.

“Take a group of workers that is already very stressed by the kind of operation that’s going on, the quantity of passengers, the amount of extra processes that are in place because of COVID in order to travel — and then adding these pieces on is not helpful,” said Leslie Dias, Unifor’s director of airlines.

During the pandemic, WestJet decided to outsource the work of guest-service agents, who would help passengers that require wheelchairs, assist with check-in kiosks and co-ordinate lineups.

But the contractor is struggling to provide enough workers, said Dias, and that’s why there was a call for volunteers.

After flying more than 700 flights daily in 2019, WestJet flew as few as 30 some days during the pandemic. Currently, there are more than 400 flights each day.

“WestJet, as is the case across Canada and across many industries, faces continued issues due to labour hiring challenges as a result of COVID-19,” said spokesperson Morgan Bell in an emailed statement.

“As WestJet looks ahead to recovery, we continue to work toward actively recalling and hiring company-wide, with the current expectation we will reach 9,000 fully trained WestJetters by the end of the year, which is more than twice as many WestJetters as we had at our lowest point in the pandemic some five months ago,” she said.

Air Canada said it only asked salaried management to help volunteer at Pearson airport. 

Unifor said the airline was short of workers because the company didn’t have enough training capacity to accommodate recalled employees and couldn’t arrange restricted-area passes on time.

Thousands of airline workers lost their jobs, were furloughed or faced wage reductions last year, although the carriers are bringing back workers as travel activity increases.

  Officials at Toronto’s Pearson airport say they are trying to reduce delays and wait times by bringing back the international-to-domestic connection process, which helps some arriving international passengers that are connecting onward in Canada to complete the customs process faster and go directly to their next flight. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Returning staff

At WestJet, its customer service agents have been recalled, according to Unifor. Many employees in other positions, though, remain out of work, including about 500 furloughed pilots.

Air Canada said it has been continually recalling employees since last spring, including more than 5,000 in July and August.

Asking for volunteers is an “unusual” occurrence in the industry, said Rick Erickson, an independent airline analyst based in Calgary. But he said it’s not surprising since cutting a workforce is much easier than building it back up.

Airlines have to retrain staff, secure valid certification and security passes, and find new hires as well.

Erickson said he even spotted WestJet CEO Ed Sims helping at the check-in counter in Calgary in recent weeks, as passenger activity was at its peak so far this year.

“This has been the most challenging time, honestly, in civil aviation history; we’ve never, ever seen anything approaching 90 per cent of your revenues drying up,” said Erickson, noting that airlines still have to watch their finances closely.

Asking employees to volunteer isn’t illegal, but it does raise some questions, said Sarah Coderre, a labour lawyer with Bow River Law LLP in Calgary. 

“Whether or not it’s fair, and the sort of position it puts the employees in, if they choose not to volunteer, that would be concerning for me from a legal standpoint,” said Coderre.

Air Canada is currently operating at about 35 to 40 per cent of its 2019 flying capacity, but said one bright spot on the horizon is bookings for winter getaways toward the end of this year and the beginning of 2022.

“When looking to the sun leisure markets, we are very optimistic about our recovery,” a spokesperson said by email. “We are currently observing demand growth that is above 2019 levels.”

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Canada announces extension of flight ban from India as it prepares for the return of direct flights
23 September 2021Canadian Aviation News
Transport Canada
September 21, 2021        Ottawa        Transport Canada

Canada continues to take a risk-based and measured approach to re-opening the border while prioritizing the health and safety of everyone in Canada.

As Canada prepares for the return of direct flights from India to Canada, Transport Canada is announcing an extension of the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that restricts all direct commercial and private passenger flights to Canada from India until September 26, 2021, at 23:59 EDT.

Once the restriction on direct flights expires, travellers eligible to enter Canada will be able to board direct flights from India to Canada with the following additional measures:  

Travellers must have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test from the approved Genestrings Laboratory at the Delhi airport taken within 18 hours of the scheduled departure of their direct flight to Canada.
Prior to boarding, air operators will be checking the travellers’ test results ensuring they are eligible to come to Canada, and that fully vaccinated travellers have uploaded their information into the ArriveCAN mobile app or website. Travellers who are unable to meet these requirements will be denied boarding.
As a first step, on September 22, 2021, three direct flights from India will arrive in Canada and all passengers on these flights will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival to ensure that the new measures are working.

After the resumption of direct flights, travellers who are eligible to enter Canada who depart India for Canada via an indirect route will continue to be required to obtain, within 72 hours of departure, a valid negative COVID-19 molecular test from a third country – other than India – before continuing their journey to Canada.

Everyone in Canada is advised to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada – international travel increases the risk of exposure to, and the spread of COVID-19, including infection caused by new variants. Border and public health measures also remain subject to change as the epidemiological situation evolves.

Associated links
Find out if you can enter Canada
ArriveCAN
COVID-19: Travel, testing, quarantine and borders
COVID-19 measures, updates, and guidance for aviation
Book a molecular test at Delhi Airport – Indira Gandhi International Airport

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  • 2 weeks later...

Canada makes vaccines mandatory for public servants, air and rail workers, travellers

1 hour ago

OTTAWA — The core public service, air travel and rail employees and travellers must all be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October, according to Canada’s new mandatory vaccine policy.

The federal government announced Wednesday public servants must attest they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29, or be put on unpaid administrative leave.

Meanwhile, the government is working with employers of airport businesses, airline and rail companies to develop their own mandatory vaccine policies by the end of the month.

Anyone wishing to hop aboard a plane or train must have received a second dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine at least 14 days before their travels. 

For travellers, there will be a short transition period to allow the unvaccinated to show a negative molecular COVID-19 test instead, though the grace period will last only until Nov. 30.

Senior government officials said during a technical briefing, provided on the condition they not be named, said anyone planning a trip in the coming weeks needs to book their vaccine appointment now.

“If you’ve done the right thing and gotten vaccinated, you deserve the freedom to be safe from COVID-19, to have your kids be safe from COVID, to get back to the things you love.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference Wednesday.

Approximately 82 per cent of eligible Canadians have received a double dose of Health Canada-approved vaccines, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said at the same briefing. 

The new policy will affect more than 267,000 core public-service and RCMP workers, officials said, and will apply even to those who work from home and outside of the country. 

They will have to provide an attestation of their vaccine status online. The attestations will be tracked and audited by departments, and managers can ask for proof of vaccination at any time. 

Employees who provide false attestations will be punished with disciplinary action, including firings.

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I'm missing something. Specs...are you referring to fuel costs? Maybe the expense of a pcr to re-enter Canada?

I believe that negative test result for vaccinated travellers is being eliminated.

I'm looking forward to the trip down but my vehicle stays there until next Spring so fingers crossed for a reasonable commute throughout this winter.

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