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‘You can’t leave us stranded’: B.C. man stuck in U.S. amid new travel rules

Click to play video: '‘You can’t leave us stranded’: B.C. man stuck in U.S. amid new travel rules' ‘You can’t leave us stranded’: B.C. man stuck in U.S. amid new travel rules
Kelowna man Rory Millikin chose to ring in the new year in Lake Tahoe, Nev. Now he fears he will be stuck there due to new travel restrictions. Shelby Thom explains. – Jan 6, 2021

An Okanagan man fears he will be stuck abroad due to new travel restrictions imposed by the Canadian government.

Rory Millikin chose to ring in the new year in Lake Tahoe, Nev.

He left on Dec. 30, 2020, but the next day, the federal government announced all travellers returning to Canada must get a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their departure.

“It has absolutely ruined this vacation,” he told Global News on Wednesday. “You can’t leave us stranded down here.”

Read more: Few will be exempted from new COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers, government says

Millikin said where he is located in the U.S., it takes up to five days to get a COVID-19 test result back.

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“Even the CVS or Walgreens, which is in Canadian terms like Shoppers Drug Mart, these are the big national chains that are doing these PCR COVID tests, these guys say, ‘Look, its four to five days typically here,'” he said.

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Coronavirus: Canada ends ban on flights from the U.K., Garneau says – Jan 6, 2021

Canada said it is bringing the measures into place in a bid to quell new cases of COVID-19, helping to prevent those carrying the virus from stepping foot on Canadian soil.

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“This new testing requirement will help prevent further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus into Canada,” said Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair.

There is a list of 24 countries, including Mexico, that are exempt from the 72-hour window until Jan. 14.

Read more: Canada to require all arriving air passengers to show negative COVID-19 test

Air travellers from those countries have up to 96 hours to get a test before stepping on a plane to Canada, but the U.S. is not on the list of exemptions.

Millikin said Canadians who were already in the U.S. prior to the announcement should be exempt from the 72-hour rule.

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Coronavirus: Ontario launches COVID-19 pilot program for international travellers – Jan 6, 2021

“I know these are strange times but at times like this, the government has a responsibility to be very clear, to consult with the airlines, to understand that, look, we are slamming this policy right after Christmas, there is clearly a bunch of us that are already down here, so why not have an exemption to those that are here?” he said.

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When asked about Canadians like Millikin stuck in the U.S. due to longer test turnaround times, federal officials didn’t offer a solution.

Read more: New coronavirus testing rules send Canadian travel industry into ‘tailspin’

“We consider that it is perfectly reasonable within 72 hours to get a PCR test and to get the results,” Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said on Wednesday.

Patty Hajdu, minister of health, added that “this is exactly why we are advising people to not travel internationally — it is difficult to acquire a PCR test in countries that you wouldn’t suspect that it is difficult to acquire one.”

Millikin said he ignored the non-essential travel advisory because he is in an isolated spot.

“When I come down here I am up in a cabin isolated to go up skiing,” he said.

The restriction comes in addition to existing measures, which include tightened borders, recommendations against non-essential travel and a mandatory 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving in Canada.

—With files from Rachel Gilmore

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