CFB Goose Bay commander says all precautions taken with Italian flight crew
Italian military members will return at the end of the month as part of 'essential mission'
The Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay raised concerns over the weekend as an Italian C-130 Hercules carrying eight crew members touched down at 5 Wing Goose Bay, a Canadian Armed Forces base.
All crew members tested for COVID-19 before departing Italy and responded negative, the town said in a statement Saturday.
The aircraft departed Goose Bay on Monday on its way back to Italy.
"We're supporting an essential mission and the mission we're supporting is the redeployment home of Italian fighter aircraft," said 5 Wing's commanding officer, Col. Stephane Racle.
"These aircraft were on exercise in the western United States, and that was before the current COVID-19 situation developed into what it is today."
Racle said the Canadian base took all precautions necessary when the Italian crew members arrived.
He said they were kept to one building inside of the base where they were the only occupants, contact was kept to a minimum between crew members and other members on base, food was delivered through no contact with other personnel, a COVID-19-specific cleaning of the area was employed and the base followed all federal and provincial health authority guidelines.
"The safety of everyone, it really is of the utmost importance to us and we take this responsibility really seriously," Racle said.
The crew will be back at the end of the month, Racle said. The area should expect other aircraft as well, as 5 Wing supports foreign allies on essential missions as members of NATO.
"They make 5 Wing a really important asset for Canada, and for that reason, because of this we're a point of entry into Canada for military aircraft on the east coast," he said.
"Most of the aircraft that will come here will be Canadian military aircraft that will be in transit as we continue our essential operations in the world, but occasionally we can expect to have foreign military aircraft."
But community concerns have not gone unheard.
Racle said the safety of people across Labrador is the top priority and all precautions are in place for military personnel travelling in and out.
"We've always had a great relationship with the community. I know that this will continue," he said.
"The work that we're doing, it's important work. It's essential in supporting Canada and our allies."
With files from Labrador Morning