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Few precautions taken at major airport, say travellers returning from Cuba

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Rob and Donna Beeston were enjoying the pristine blue beaches of Varadero, Cuba, before flying home and self-isolating from COVID-19.

When a St. Albert couple planned their holiday to Cuba, they never imagined a return would require self-isolation for 14 days.

Rob and Donna Beeston arrived home a day early on Monday, March 16, after a one-week vacation at Varadero, a popular beach and resort town often referred to as Playa Azul (Blue Beach). It was the same day Alberta Premier Jason Kenney raised concerns about airport screening and warned Albertans to cancel their travel plans.

“We were grateful WestJet did not charge an exchange fee. But we expected more at Pearson Airport when we landed,” said Donna Beeston.

She explained border security inquired how individuals were feeling, spoke briefly about COVID-19 and handed out an information sheet.

“I didn’t see any swabbing or other testing. They only swabbed two people and they were picked at random,” Donna noted.

At the moment, the couple is experiencing no symptoms of the coronavirus.

“We’re experiencing a bit of boredom and cabin fever. We’ve only been back for a few days, but such is life.”

When the Beestons arrived home, they placed a pick-up food order through an online service that drops it directly at shoppers’ doors.

“You don’t even have to see them. They just charge it to your credit card based on the price that day. And our kids are stepping up to the plate. If we need anything, they leave it at the front door.”

Rob, an insurance broker, continues to work from his home office, while Donna, a freelance project manager, is unemployed.

“And I can’t look for a job right now. But we’ll deal with the situation in the best way we can. In the climate we’re in, we have to do what we’re told (self-isolate). As much as it goes against our grain, we have to do it.”

Fortunately, the federal government has implemented Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits for self-employed Canadians unable to work due to injury, illness or the need to be isolated because they may be carrying a disease.

Additionally, self-isolation strategies that follow federal government guidelines are:

• Wash hands frequently

• Stay home from work or school

• Avoid public transportation

• Arrange to have supplies such as groceries dropped at your door

• Avoid elderly people and anyone with compromised immune systems or chronic conditions

• Keep unavoidable interactions with people brief. Stay at least two metres apart.