We are not alarmists and we are not ones to worry. Our teams reach across the globe and some of our people have already been through the COVID-19 outbreak in China and lived through the first wave of cancellations and travel bans in Asia. But right now is a time for everyone still traveling for business or pleasure to get home. Your window of being able to return via commercial flights or drive across a border is closing fast.
Now that the epicenter of the outbreak has shifted from China to Italy things will change rapidly. Yesterday Spain announced a nationwide lock down similar to Italy’s and France has ordered the closing of all non-essential shops including all cafes, restaurants and cinemas. Europe is moving quickly into a full lockdown mode and North America is rapidly approaching.
This means Canadians in the US, Europe or anywhere across the globe need to evaluate their circumstances and take action immediately. Both US and Canadian governments have stated that they are considering grounding flights internationally and domestically. The Trump administration has talked about setting up internal quarantine zones and the Canadian government has been clear that nothing is off the table, including shutting down the US border.
Right now it’s possible, in fact some experts say it’s probable, that the world’s longest unprotected border could be closed to all but essential traffic. This means Americans in Canada and Canadians in the US could be caught if they don’t heed this advice.
Canada has done a much more robust job of testing for COVID-19 than the US and health officials feel the situation in Canada is probably quite a bit better than the United States. As such it would make sense for Canadian officials to shut the border, despite the political, economic, security and logistical difficulties.
The bottomline for our community is this; Europe is going into a deeper and most likely cascading lockdown mode for the next little while, and government officials in both the United States and Canada are telling their citizens to prepare for more drastic measures across North America. When Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs urges Canadians to come home, they should. We know his US counterparts are doing the same thing with their citizens.
The messaging is clear, if you’re traveling, your window to get home to the US or Canada is closing fast.