Health and safety protocols for arriving international travellers are strict and don’t consider reasons for travel, says a letter writer. (Black Press Media files)

Health and safety protocols for arriving international travellers are strict and don’t consider reasons for travel, says a letter writer. (Black Press Media files)

LETTER: Langley performer irked by ever-changing, inconsistent COVID rules

Letter writer feels she had not choice but to move to Mexico to ride out pandemic

Dear Editor,

Oh Canada, our COVID-19 Canada, catch up and lead by example.

Canadian international travellers must return to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary or Vancouver and stay in a government-designated hotel. Yet PM Trudeau will return from the G7 Europe trip via private plane to Ottawa and stay in a non-government-designated hotel in Ottawa. Meanwhile…

I’m a singer-songwriter. In 2020, I was hired by two music schools to teach and was moving to Kitsilano to live and part-time manage Air B&B suites when the pandemic hit and stopped it all.

I was glad to be around to help housebound quarantining neighbours and my parents with groceries, errands and yard work.

Thanks to grants, I recorded a new album, but all plans to showcase, tour, promote, relationship-build in-person were cancelled. I did 11 free Facebook livestreams, no live performances (50 to 80 per cent of my revenue) between February and September, and only eight gigs total in 2020 (versus 50+/year in other years).

I applied for government and university jobs – no success. I did peer assessments for six organizations (two paid) but still couldn’t afford B.C. living and didn’t want to rely on government aid. I went to Mexico where I could work remotely and live safely for cheaper and warmer.

Canada cancelled and stopped Canadian airline flights to and from Mexico and imposed: 14-day quarantine; you-pay three-night hotel stay (air travel); three PCR tests; two more CRB requirements.

Two Canadian women I know flew to B.C. from Mexico via the US in May and were fined $3,000 and $3,500 for no hotel-stay.

When my 180-day VISA expired I came home. AéroMexico flies into Vancouver, but I can’t afford a hotel stay. I flew within Mexico, taxied to the border, walked into the US, stayed in the US to get the PCR and results, then flew within the US, taxied to the border and walked into Canada.

Entry: Canadians must do three PCR tests (72 hours prior, Day 1, Day 8) and quarantine for 14 days. That’s best-case scenario. My neighbour had to quarantine for 17 days as the courier didn’t pick up her Day 8 test for three days and she still had no results on Day 16.

Switch Health requires a daily check-in, calls you from a live agent or automated system, and may visit your place of quarantine. Friends were quarantining in an upstairs suite when Switch Health knocked on the main door. They didn’t answer and were fined.

By contrast, the US doesn’t require a test to enter by land, accepts a viral test to enter by air (Hawaii requires a PCR) and no quarantine with a negative test.

Vaccine: The US vaccine administration has been faster and farther-reaching. First shots are available day-of and the second Pfizer/Moderna shots are done three/four weeks after. All but eight US states are fully open. How I wish I got my first shot in the US last week.

In B.C., I had to pre-register and out of three cities, the first available shot is three weeks from now.

Timelines are changing, people were first told a four-month wait for the second shot and now it’s two months.

But Health Canada advises, “a single dose and then a second dose 21 days later/one month apart” for Pfizer/Moderna respectively. We are slowed down and going against health protocol due to perverse red tape.

I am grateful for the CERB. I went to apply for the CRB and there are two added eligibility hurdles: “You were present in Canada” and “You were not self-isolating or in quarantine due to international travel.”

The “present” rule makes sense, but quarantine ineligibility is a compounded arbitrary exclusion. The quarantine (and for 14 days) is itself contentious and arbitrary, and you are present while isolating. At least, reason for travel should be considered.

I take health, and individual and collective responsibility seriously. I understand that it’s not about you or me or purposely causing harm, but about the potential to have and pass on the virus without knowing it.

Some regulations are arbitrary, unnecessary and discriminatory, punishing against those already more negatively affected.

According to recent news reports, as early as July, the mandatory hotel stay, 14-day quarantine and three PCR tests will be dropped for two PCR tests and quarantine until a negative test result for fully vaccinated Canadians. Canada still lags in vaccinating, but I suppose this is progress.

Please consider the current quarantine period after essential (out of necessity) international travel as eligible for the CRB.

Sandy Powlik, Langley City

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