Ottawa

New travel restrictions a roadblock for Canadians with family in Mexico, Caribbean

Travel restrictions meant to discourage Canadians from taking vacations in sunnier destinations are now a major roadblock for those with loved ones in the Caribbean and Mexico.

'If anything happens, what can we do?' says Hugo Crespo with the Mexican-Canadian Cultural Association

Canada's major airlines have agreed to suspend flights to destinations like the Caribbean and Mexico beginning this Sunday. Some with family in those places say it leaves them without any way to get home. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Travel restrictions meant to discourage Canadians from taking vacations in sunnier destinations are now a major roadblock for those with loved ones in the Caribbean and Mexico.

The federal government announced Friday morning that Canada's major airlines are suspending services to some sun destinations, including the Caribbean and Mexico, beginning this Sunday until April 30.

The government is also introducing mandatory testing at airports for people returning to Canada. Travellers will then have to wait up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2,000.

The measures are an effort to curb the further importation of COVID-19 cases, but some say it leaves them with no options to see loved ones back home in case something happens.

'A worrisome situation'

"I think it's a serious worry, a serious concern for me," said Leslie Kumar-Misir, executive director of the Canada Caribbean Society of Ottawa.

Like thousands of people in the National Capital Region, Kumar-Misir is from the Caribbean and has family still living there. He said with some in his family getting older, not having the option to see them at all is troubling.

Hugo Crespo, president of the Mexican-Canadian Cultural Association of Ottawa-Gatineau, said "it's a worrisome situation."

"If anything happens, what can we do? I mean, [I'm] heartbroken, but this is where we are," Crespo said.

Alicia Mayer, second from the right, poses with her family from Mexico during their visit to Canada last year. (Submitted by Alicia Mayer)

"I still have brothers and sisters and my mother living in Mexico ... and my grandmother. My grandmother is 105-years-old."

Crespo said he believes families should still be able to fly home easily to see family if need be, and that it's unfortunate that government has taken such an extreme approach to international travel. Others think the restrictions are a move in the right direction.

"I think that the government is taking the right measures to stop the spread of the virus here in Canada," said
Alicia Mayer with UNAM-Canada, a Mexican university in Gatineau.

Mayer said if there was anything urgent that required her to fly back home, she would try to make other arrangements.

With files from Catharine Tunney

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