New travel protocols complicating Ottawa woman's efforts to get home

·2 min read

An Ottawa woman studying in Scotland is worried new restrictions on travel will keep her away from home even longer.

Aditee Kissoon is in the United Kingdom obtaining a master's degree in media and communication.

"It's been extremely stressful," she told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Monday. "Especially [because] for the whole of this year I have been writing a thesis, which is a pretty stressful situation already in a pandemic."

Kissoon said when the pandemic was first declared back in March, she called her father "crying frantically" and telling him she wanted to come home right away. Her father advised her to stay and complete her degree.

She did, and in November, Kissoon booked a flight home on Jan. 6, before the Canadian government extended a temporary travel ban meant to keep a new variant of the novel coronavirus detected in the U.K. from spreading to Canada.

Starting Jan. 7, Canada will also require all travellers entering the country to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding their flights.

Difficulty sleeping

Kissoon purchased another ticket for Jan. 8, then learned the first available appointment for a COVID-19 test was Jan. 11. She said it will cost about $500 Cdn for her and her partner to be tested.

"I agree with the new requirement, although I think it should have been implemented way, way [earlier] during the pandemic," she said.

Kissoon said if a spot for a test doesn't open up in the next few days, she'll have to rebook her flight yet again. Meanwhile, her visa will soon expire, and that could leave Kissoon at the mercy of the U.K.'s visa and immigration department.

"The uncertainty of me returning home has been extremely stressful, and it's difficult for me to eat and sleep sometimes," she said.

When she does finally return home, Kissoon, whose mother is a health-care worker and whose parents both have underlying health issues that put them at added risk if the contract COVID-19, will have to find somewhere else to self-isolate. She estimates two weeks at an Airbnb will set her back another $2,500.

"It's put a lot of stress on my parents," she said. "They're not sure what is going to happen, if they're going to be able to see me."