'Not everyone can afford to quarantine for three days:' travellers call new restrictions unnecessarily harsh

For more than a year, Catia Mendes has been physically apart from her fiance Cesar Perez. That was supposed to end on Feb. 7, when the pair would reunite in Cuba to get married, but Canada's new travel restrictions have put that on hold, leading the couple to feel unfairly targeted.

“I think it would have been a good idea to ban non-essential travel in terms of vacation, but at least have an airline available (for) people who have families overseas,” said Mendes.

With their wedding having been put off once before because of the pandemic, Mendes said waiting longer is a hard pill to swallow, as that means delaying the sponsorship process that would allow Perez to immigrate to Canada.

“The process for immigration sponsorship takes a long time. There's a huge backlog, there's people that have been waiting three years for their husband or wife to come into Canada, especially from Cuba,” she said.

Like Mendes, snowbird Christine Paslawsky, who is currently in Barbados, believes the restrictions are overly harsh, saying not everyone who leaves the country is doing so to party.

“We came down here... for physical needs as well as mental health,” said Paslawsky. “I suffer greatly from arthritic pain in the winter time back home.”

Paslawsky argued that for many snowbirds, especially seniors, heading to warmer climates is a necessity as the snow and icy sidewalks in Quebec present a challenge for mobility.

“Here, you can't leave the condo without a mask. You can't walk on the beach without a mask. So it's not right that we're being lumped in together.”

With their originally scheduled March flight home cancelled, Paslawsky and her husband had to scramble to reserve seats on one of the three repatriation flights leaving Barbados early next month. After that, the pair will have to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense.

“Not everybody can afford $2,000 per person to quarantine for three days,” she said. 

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