Some international flights can still land in N.B., airports say
Restrictions exempt flights from Mexico, Caribbean
The Canadian government imposed new restrictions on where international flights can land in the country, though exemptions will allow some flights from 'sun destinations' to land in New Brunswick.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that as of Mar. 18, international flights will be permitted to land only at the international airports in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver to enhance screening.
However, officials with the Moncton and Fredericton airports say exemptions will allow flights to land from Mexico and some Caribbean nations.
All three main New Brunswick airports have flights during the winter to southern countries, called "sun destination" flights.
"They can come back directly to us," said Julie Pondant, a spokesperson for the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport.
Pondant said the Moncton airport normally has 14 flights per week. Those are split between Sunwing and Air Transat.
Departing flights cancelled
Sunwing announced Monday it is halting most departing trips starting Tuesday and lasting until Apr. 9 due to the pandemic. The company is offering people with trips booked within that time a full cash refund or future travel credit.
Pondant said Monday evening that the airport had yet to receive an update from Air Transat.
Kate O'Rourke is a spokesperson for the Fredericton International Airport Authority. She said the airport normally has four Sunwing flights. Most Fredericton flights are domestic.
She said that means the impact of various travel restrictions announced Monday likely wouldn't have as much of an impact as it would for other airports in the country.
Screening of returning passengers is handled by Canada Border Services Agency. The agency has said it is increasing screening measures at airports in response to COVID-19.
The changes to international flights were among measures Trudeau announced Monday. Other steps include barring entry to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or U.S. citizens.
Trudeau said no one displaying symptoms will be permitted to board a flight to Canada, and that air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every passenger based on guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Travellers told to return to Canada
The federal government had called for Canadians to return home.
"If you are abroad at this time, it's time to come home," Trudeau said Monday.
Patrick Cameron isn't sure if that will be possible. He's been travelling for three months. In recent days, he's been surfing in Imsouane, Morocco.
Reuters, CNN and other news agencies reported Morocco suspended commercial flights in and out of the country and has closed its borders due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"I'm not in a huge panic yet, but it seems like everybody else is panicking," Cameron, who grew up in New Brunswick, said in a Skype interview Monday. "So especially when the government tells us to go home, I should probably listen."
Cameron said he'd normally try to fly through Europe to get back to Canada, but said that likely wouldn't work given travel restrictions imposed by various nations on that continent.
He said he doesn't feel unsafe where he's at in Morocco, but isn't sure whether he'd be able to get home.
"I feel like if I try to go home, I'd almost be putting myself at more of a risk," Cameron said.