In order to come back to their country of Canada, my sister and her small son have to present a negative COVID test that’s less than 72 hours old at the border.
They are citizens. Yet they cannot enter their own country on the strength of a passport. Citizens aren’t allowed into their own country. What meaning does the word “country” have anymore?
My sister is fully vaccinated and the kid is 5, so it’s not about that. There’s absolutely nothing they could have done to avoid what follows.
So this is what unfolded. My sister makes her travel plans, gets tested, and. . . the test comes in inconclusive. This means her travel plans are in the toilet, the airplane ticket is lost, she’ll have to get re-tested, all of the plans for the week have to be remade. And she has no idea when she’ll be home.
None of this is a big deal for people of leisure and a lot of money. But for people with jobs and no servants, travel becomes untenable. If you have no idea how long a trip will last, how much it will cost, and when you’ll get back, it becomes easier not to travel.
An additional problem is that if you are going to Canada and have a connecting flight, you will lose it. Customs takes hours. Many hours. It just goes on and on because, apparently, it’s very good for public health to keep all of the people you subjected to the rigorous COVID testing confined in a small crowded space for hours.
The only solution is to get a private jet.
Zygmunt Bauman wrote this sentence 20 years ago that I could never understand. I’m quoting from memory but it goes something like this: the government’s role is no longer to look out for the well-being of the citizens but, instead, to keep global travel pathways free for the unimpeded, fast travel of the supranational elite. The part about travel was what I couldn’t figure out.
Now I get it.