By Nikki Jamieson
Alta Newspaper Group – Coaldale
Non-essential travel is still not recommended at this time due to the pandemic.
In a telephone town hall on COVID-19 testing and the Stage 2 Relaunch, hosted by Tanya Fir, minister of economic development, trade and tourism on Friday, June 19, several participants voiced questions and concerns about travel during the pandemic.
One participant asked if they visit family in another province, if they would have to isolate for 14 days upon their arrival and return. Fir said at this time, they do not recommend nonessential travel outside of the province.
“We are encouraging all Albertans to stay within the province, however if you do have to go to a different province, you are not required to self-isolate when returning to Alberta,” said Fir. “However, other provinces, be aware, have a variety of different rules for self-isolation and quarantine upon arrival and return.”
The Maritime provinces, for instance, are requiring people to quarantine for 14 days after entering the province, while B.C. and Saskatchewan do not, according to Dr. Marcia Johnson, the deputy chief medical officer of health. Johnson stressed that if you are travelling and are feeling ill, or anyone you are visiting is feeling ill, than you should not travel, stay home, self-isolate and get tested.
“It’s really important as you travel, if you do have to travel even within Alberta, to continue to observe the social distancing and the frequent hand washing and the other messages that we are promoting in order to prevent transmission,” said Johnson.
When asked if an employee needed to self-isolate for 10 days if they travelled to another province by car, stayed in a hotel and social distanced, Fir noted that while they understand that it’s summer and people “are itching to travel and visit friends and family”, they are not recommending nonessential travel. However, if they do leave to visit another province, they are not required to self-isolate upon their return.
But if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you are required to self-isolate for 10 days or until the symptoms subside.
When asked about the possibility to form a travel-bubble zone between B.C. and Alberta, Fir said while the province is looking at travel bubbles, they have no specifics on them yet. Johnson said it was a “moving discussion”, and the idea came from Scandinavian countries and, more locally, the Maritime provinces are considering it.
“It’s only kind of meaningful, because they had restrictions that you had to isolate for 14 days when you crossed the provincial border, and similarly in the Yukon, the Yukon did have that stipulation that you had to isolate when you crossed the border into the Yukon,” said Johnson. “So between Alberta and B.C., there is no requirement to quarantine when you cross inter-provincial borders, but we’re just suggesting that it is good still. COVID has not disappeared, it is still in our communities, we need to all be careful, and if you are vacationing and you all can stay home, close to home, in our own province, that would be good. But if you need to go to B.C., you can without a quarantine restriction and vice-versa.”