China Bans Travel from Canada, Citing Coronavirus Risks

China Bans Travel from Canada, Citing Coronavirus Risks

The Chinese government, which famously opposed travel bans when the Wuhan coronavirus was spreading around the world, announced on Saturday that it will temporarily ban travel from Canada “in view of the current Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] situation and the need of epidemic prevention and control.”

“All foreign nationals who hold valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion are temporarily not allowed to enter China from Canada,” the Chinese embassy in Ottawa stated.

“The suspension is a temporary measure that China has to take in light of the current pandemic situation,” the embassy added.

China was furiously opposed to travel bans in early 2020, when nations around the world were considering precisely the sort of restriction against Chinese travelers that Beijing is now imposing upon Canada without a second thought. Chinese officials and state media treated travel bans as personal insults or racist discrimination. 

In February 2020, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping personally told then-U.S. President Donald Trump restrictions on travel were unnecessary and insulting to China’s battle against the epidemic spreading from Wuhan. International public health experts, including the World Health Organization (W.H.O.), argued that travel bans could actually be counterproductive to fighting the virus.

Those arguments have completely vanished as the latest wave of coronavirus infections hits countries like Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more travel restrictions of his own on Friday, including mandatory testing and quarantine for international travelers, who are expected to pay the estimated $2,000 cost of their own quarantines. 

Trudeau also announced that Canadian airlines would suspend service to Mexico and Caribbean destinations. Only the airports in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal will be allowed to receive international air travelers.

A consortium of Candian corporations on Saturday announced a “wartime”-style rapid testing program that would cover some 350,000 employees. Air Canada is one of the participating corporations. Canada’s economy has contracted about five percent during the pandemic, much of the country is once again under lockdown, and analysts believe vaccinations will not allow the nation to resume normal operations until late this year.

John Hayward