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Canada Must Ban Travel to the United States

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A bronze statue of George Washington is one of the historic landmarks on Wall Street, which is witnessing a catastrophic economic collapse because of coronavirus and poor management by the Trump administration. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

In this column, Vacay.ca Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi urges Canadians to avoid travel to the United States in order help slow the spread of coronavirus north of the border.

Canadians must immediately stop non-essential travel to the United States. That’s not only for the good of themselves but for their communities. Reports emerging from medical professionals in the States and citizens trying to get tested for the COVID-19 virus are underscoring how poorly prepared and grotesquely politicized the U.S. federal government’s response has been to a pandemic that began building on December 31.

On Wednesday night, the perpetrator at fault for America’s poor response — and the financial catastrophe that has followed it — made a plea for non-partisanship and togetherness days after he called the coronavirus a hoax cooked up by the Democratic party, and held a press event during which he said he didn’t want a cruise ship with infected passengers to dock in California because “our numbers are going to go up”, which would be a bad look for his re-election hopes.

When the United States had 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus, Donald Trump told his country the virus was just like the flu and the infection statistics would “within a couple of days be down to close to zero”.

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Dislike for Donald Trump and his policies has spread across the globe, including to the Berlin Wall. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Those cases have jumped to more than 1,000 and that is without adequate testing. The Trump administration famously slashed the budget for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) by 80 per cent in 2018 and as recently as Tuesday re-affirmed further proposed cuts to health agencies in charge of dealing with epidemics and public health planning.

The test kits for coronavirus that the Trump administration developed itself instead of adopting the effective ones used by the World Health Organization have not been delivered in anywhere near the numbers that were promised. (Those early tests from the CDC were also flawed, adding to the head-shaking gaffes committed by the U.S.)

The result is a nation of 337 million people in freefall. Economically, physically, and politically. During his address to the nation — and, really, to the world — on Wednesday, Trump announced a 30-day ban on travel between the United States and Europe’s Schengen Zone (exempt is Boris Johnson’s United Kingdom, which has more coronavirus cases than several of the nations on the continent).

Even if they don’t get on an airplane, Americans must feel like they’re on the most turbulent ride of their life. Canadians don’t need to be victims of Trump’s malfeasance too.

His speech was so poor it required multiple corrections shortly after it was delivered and so poorly received the critical Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 1,000 points in futures trading shortly after he concluded.

While Canada’s federal response to COVID-19 has been middle of the road compared to the comprehensive tactics of South Korea, the decision-makers in charge of tackling coronavirus under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are primarily doctors and researchers. Before Trump’s announcement, Trudeau committed $1 billion to combat the virus, with half of it to be allocated to the provinces and territories. But there are not enough tests at the points-of-entry into the country. In fact, the last plane from Rome to Montreal before an Air Canada halt to afflicted Italy goes into effect landed on Wednesday night with passengers reporting that they were not interviewed or tested when they disembarked.

But there have been bright spots in the nation’s responses. Trudeau has at least struck a tone that demonstrates statesmanship and not hysteria. The lessons learned during the SARS epidemic of 2003 has helped with planning for the outbreak. In British Columbia, which has witnessed the only coronavirus death to date in Canada, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has earned praise for the compassion and level-headed professionalism she has demonstrated in reporting about the cases that are mounting in her jurisdiction. In New Brunswick, the education minister took a dramatic step in banning all children who had recently travelled overseas from returning to school for at least two weeks.

If the Italian horror is motivating governments to be more proactive then individual citizens need to also regulate their activities. It’s not likely Trudeau will soon announce a travel ban to the U.S. — even though it clearly is the prudent course of action. So, it’s up to Canadians to self-police and avoid Trump’s America. Make no doubt, there are millions and millions of Americans who right now wish they had that option.

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Adrian is the editor of Vacay.ca and VacayNetwork.com. He also edited "Inspired Cooking", a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring 20 of Canada's leading chefs and in support of the cancer-fighting charity, InspireHealth. "Inspired Cooking" was created in honour of Adrian's late wife and Vacay.ca co-founder, Julia Pelish, who passed away of brain cancer in 2016. Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing, travel photography, and fiction, and has visited more than 55 countries. He is a former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, and was the social media and advocacy manager for Destination Canada. His articles have frequently appeared in the Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, and other major publications. He has appeared on national and local broadcasts, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. In 2019, he launched Trippzy, a travel-trivia app developed to educate consumers about destinations around the world.