Vancouver International Airport (YVR) says it is working to increase screening measures as it becomes one of only four Canadian airports accepting international travellers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The airport’s CEO said travellers arriving on overseas flights will face increased signage about the novel coronavirus, both in print and digital, after they disembark, while Canada Border Services Agency staff and health-care staff monitor them closely for symptoms.
“Everyone is getting blanketed with information — as much signage as they can take,” said Craig Richmond, speaking from the airport on Tuesday.
The Vancouver airport, along with airports in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary, will be the only airports in Canada accepting international flights as of Wednesday.
The reduction in airports accepting overseas travellers comes as Canada closes its borders to anyone who is not a Canadian citizen, Canadian permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, with some exceptions for diplomats and airline crews.
Overseas flights are being funnelled through the four airports to allow the Canada Border Services Agency to better screen arrivals and ensure the passengers are getting information that they are to self-isolate for 14 days.
The increased screening measures were enacted after criticism mounted over the weekend, with residents asking why the measures at borders and airports were not ramped up sooner given the gravity of the outbreak.
Previously, travellers passing through Canadian airports say they are being asked whether they have recently visited Hubei province in China, Italy or Iran — but not where exactly they have travelled or whether they went to other countries hit by outbreaks.
Airlines are now required to screen all passengers for signs of the novel coronavirus and deny boarding to anyone showing symptoms, including Canadians.