Loophole concerns with new travel ban from India and Pakistan to Canada

CALGARY — The travel ban from India and Pakistan to Canada is officially in place for 30 days. The restrictions were announced by the Federal government Thursday amid concerns over rising COVID-19 cases and the B.1.617 variant that is fuelling a massive surge of cases in India.

Riyaz Khawaja’s family lives in India and he said he lost his aunt to COVID-19 last year.

“It’s really worrying right now. Everybody is worried,” he said.

“People are waiting in their cars or ambulances because there are no beds in the hospitals.”

Oxygen tanks are also running low in the country.

For the second day in a row, India reported the world’s highest daily tally of covid-19 infections. On Friday, the country surpassed 345, 000.

The last flight from New Delhi landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Friday morning.

LOOPHOLES

Jay Chowdhury, Director of the Indian Society of Calgary, said while the majority of the local community believe extra measures need to be taken to curb the spread,  there are loopholes with the ban. In extreme or emergency cases, he said some might utilize the loopholes.

“If there is a will there is a way for Indians coming here because all direct flights (to Canada) are cancelled but not flights for people coming to US or coming through other countries. They can transfer and buy a new ticket and come to Canada,” said Chowdhury.

Toseef Bukhari and his daughter Noor Fatima have been in contact with their family members in Pakistan. Bukhari said the situation isn’t as bad there compared to India.

“They are providing all kinds of facilities for the people they are taking initiatives like smart lockdowns,” said Bukhair.

Despite this, the families agree with the travel ban.

“It’s important that we take these steps as soon as possible so that we can restrict it. There are counties who have implemented the travel ban and they are free now,” said Noor Fatima.

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