Canadians stranded in the United Kingdom face uncertainty about how or when they can get home, and in some cases their stay while waiting for a travel ban.
Brooke Johnson, 42, is from the Niagara region but moved to London for work. His contract expired on December 18, and he was preparing to leave when all commercial and private passenger flights from the UK were stopped by Canada.
The initial 72-hour suspension on flights from the UK has now been extended to two weeks until January 6, as Canada seeks to prevent a new variant of the Canadian novel from spreading here.
There are concerns that the new variant is significantly more contagious than other strains, although it may not be as dangerous.
“This is an open decision that I don’t know when it will end or where I am going to stay,” Johnson said.
Johnson said his shelter would soon be over, with parts of London and parts of the southeast of the UK subject to strict, “Tier 4” Govt-19 restrictions.
“It’s a little scary because hotels and airplanes are closed for bookings, so I stay somewhere until December 28th, but after that it’s a big question mark,” he said.
Reports of thousands stranded in the UK
Dozens of countries around the world have imposed travel restrictions on fighting in the country, with many reportedly stranded in the UK.
Global Affairs Canada reports that there are currently 11,038 Canadians registered in the country, but this is a voluntary registration and not everyone wants to leave.
Johnson said he has a few days to find a place to stay.
“In normal times, I would go to a hotel or stay with friends, but who would take me in the middle of an epidemic when things were raging in London? I and others would be in danger,” he said.
“It’s just now, but it’s so hard and stressful.”
Saeed Durhan, 51, was lucky enough to extend his hotel stay, but it was expensive.
“We’re excited to find an airport home starting Sunday,” he said.
“We didn’t find anything.”
Durhan traveled from Mississauga on vacation and to visit family, but now cannot book a flight to take him and his 15-year-old son home.
He tried to book a flight to Canada via Washington D.C., but was told that United Airlines would only carry U.S. citizens.
Durhan said there was no help, guidance or guidance from the Canadian government or the embassy.
“I’m not looking for a free ride here. What the Canadian government wants to do is do what the US government does,” Durhan said.
“United Airlines only takes American citizens. Why can’t Canada do this with Air Canada? Air Canada planes are sitting at Heathrow Airport. Why can’t they do the right thing? Canadian residents can only board the plane and go back home?”
Global Affairs Canada says it has no plans to provide return or assistance departure flights.
In a statement to the CBC News, it said it was aware that Canadians abroad were seeking to return to Canada.
The Government of Canada has advised against non-essential travel outside Canada from March 13, 2020.
But Global Affairs says Canada continues to closely monitor the situation.
“The Canadian embassy basically told me I own it,” Durhan said. “The Canadian government is completely depriving its own citizens.”