It’s hard to start any conversation without the latest new buzz-word, another Greek letter, Omicron. Two weeks ago, we had never heard of this latest mutation or variant of the dreaded Covid virus and today it’s Back to the Future and Groundhog Day all rolled into one. Luckily, we can still meet at the pub and my partner in beer is already comfortably ensconced in one of the new comfy patio chairs in our lair by the sea.

            ‘Don’t even ask me about the latest travel advisory by the feds,’ Camp said, holding up a hand to stop me. 

            ‘You’re a good mind reader,’ I said, ‘but I would like to hear your opinion on it.’

            ‘It’s unsettling and disappointing, without scientific foundation and quite frankly smacks of politics and diversionary tactics. So many conflicting messages crowding the airwaves and the internet, I for one just want to stop the noise.’

            ‘Well, that’s helpful insight,’ I said, taking a sip from my frosty mug. ‘I agree, it’s very disappointing and smacks once again of travel shaming, meaning it has little to do with science or common sense but is mostly about political optics, blame shifting and distraction. This sweeping general travel advisory causing confusion, disappointment and chaos. Interestingly enough, only Ontario is accelerating booster shots and handing out rapid antigen tests right now. Here in BC the public might have access to rapid tests in January and boosters are available to the 65 and older now and only in January will people 18 and up be eligible for a booster. Also, the vaccination clinics will be closed over the holidays. Too little too slow some now say.’

            ‘Yes, that seems to be the case,’ Camp nodded, ‘and according to Fauci the booster shot is effective against this Omicron. This is where the Feds fall down. Instead of a vaccine mandate, which would keep people out of the hospitals and Icu’s, they want people to cancel their ‘non-essential’ travels’.

            ‘What does that mean anyway?’ Going south and getting some vitamin D into my system is essential after two years of staying home. Also, the virus is not imported through air travel with only a tiny fraction of positive cases coming in through the international terminals, where they are quickly identified. There are 1200 ports of entry by land and sea into Canada and thousands cross the borders every day. The new advisory does not address this minor discrepancy at all.’ 

            ‘A year ago, none of us were immunized and now that 80 percent of the population is vaccinated and we all have to test before boarding any flight, this should be taken into consideration. All of us snowbirds who have their boosters should be able to fly to our sunny destinations. Three shots should count for something. Of course, they raise the fear-flag of being stuck in foreign lands with no way home, no insurance and no help from the Canadians. That is always the case when you travel abroad. Arrival testing should have always been the first tool deployed but still it’s a smorgasbord of confusion and political distraction, testing and quarantine requirements and selective countries on a no-fly list, just in time for the holidays.’

            ‘We’re all frustrated, Camp said. ‘What would you do if you were in charge?’

            ‘I would declare a vaccine mandate and hand out rapid test kits as in the UK, Nova Scotia and even Alberta. In addition, every arriving traveller from abroad would have to undergo a rapid antigen test, in addition to the PCR test required 72 hours prior to boarding.’

            ‘What about the rise of the Omicron? Sounds like a science fiction movie.’

            ‘Watch it, find out more about it and try to limit your exposure to large unmasked and unvaccinated gatherings. Don’t panic.’

            ‘Let’s ask Vicky what she thinks,’ Camp said. She only took a moment to answer.

            ‘Tell the guy who cancelled Christmas he should help vaccinate the rest of the world instead,’ she said and we both nodded in agreement. 

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