'I do have concerns': Alberta premier warns against passing through airports

Published March 16, 2020 8:49 a.m. ET
Updated May 14, 2020 1:59 p.m. ET

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EDMONTON -- Edmonton International Airport says it is constantly adapting to the quickly evolving COVID-19 outbreak, despite concerns from Alberta's premier over reports that proper protocol is not being followed.

Jason Kenney visited the arrivals area at Edmonton International Airport on Sunday to see how passengers were being screened.

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“I do have concerns about what appears to be a lack of rigour with respect to screening and information being provided to people arriving on international flights in Canada, including here in Alberta," Kenney said that day.

A day later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would announce four Canadian airports would continue accepting international flights: Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. 

But EIA CEO and President Tom Ruth told media on Monday the airport has been preparing for weeks. 

He said there has been a "ratcheting up" of regulations, including increasing levels of cleaning, signage, and, most recently, preventative measures being taken by airlines like pre-flight screening. 

Airports do not fall under the restrictions on gatherings of more than 250 people.

Despite the added measures, the premier says it's best to just stay away.

"Frankly from today onwards, all non-essential travel plans should be cancelled," Kenney said. "And let me be clear about that. I still hear about people planning on taking spring break outside the country. If they do so they may have a hard time getting back into Canada because of the cancellation of flights."

Kenney said he is directing Travel Alberta to prepare a campaign to advise snowbirds of the protocol to come back to Canada.

According to Ruth, it's too early to tell what impact on business the new coronavirus will have, although he noted EIA doens't expect its international cargo movement to be affected. 

"The airport industry is very resilient. We've gone through things i nthe past and then we usually rebound. The one thing that none of us know right now is how long are we going to be in this COVID-19 environment."

WIth files from CTV News Edmonton's Nahreman Issa

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