Canadian Promo Insiders Split On Reactions To New Travel Advisory

The Canadian government on Wednesday issued a new advisory to its citizens against non-essential international travel. Similar guidelines instituted near the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 had only been lifted in October.

Amid rising COVID-19 cases in recent weeks and continued monitoring of the Omicron variant, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said that the advisory would be in place for four weeks, through at least January 12. Officials also left open the possibility that further restrictions could be placed in the days and weeks to come.

Promotional products professionals and companies from Canada and those doing business in the country were divided in their reaction to the news.

Mark Graham, president and chief brand officer at Toronto, Ontario-based sales software provider commonsku (PPAI 552077), says he is optimistic that the government’s issuance will allow companies to still conduct business reasonably. As for skucon 2022, to be held January 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada, a precursor to The PPAI Expo (January 10-13), Graham says “the show will go on.”

“For the in-person skucon events, rest assured that we not only have an incredible team in Canada but also in the U.S., and at the moment, there are no changes in our plans,” Graham says. “Plus, with skucon being both in-person and virtual this year, attendees have the best of both options.”

With its cloud-based model, commonsku is unlikely to see effects from the new advisory, according to Graham. As 19 months of restrictions and complications have forced greater flexibility in the industry, some large promotional products suppliers doing business on both sides of the border are looking for silver linings to the news.

One senior source at a large supplier situated in the U.S. within a designated Foreign-Trade Zone said the advisory will not affect its business at all, and in fact the measure could clear border crossings, allowing the supplier’s trucks to pass back and forth more quickly. The company has been shipping in and out of Canada with no disruption since the onset of the pandemic, calling operations “business as usual.”

Canada is continuing to allow foreign entry for vaccinated visitors who provide a negative COVID-19 test upon entry. Individuals crossing the border on the ground do not need to provide a negative test if their trip is shorter than 72 hours and they are fully vaccinated.

The advisory does potentially create complications for Canadian professionals with travel plans. Canadians may not be able to purchase travel health insurance for the next four weeks, for instance. That consideration and a desire to comply with the government advisory prompted Promotional Product Professionals of Canada (PPPC) on Wednesday to cancel plans to attend The PPAI Expo next month. Jonathan Strauss, president and CEO of PPPC, says the organization expected to have a delegation of seven or eight volunteers and staff in Las Vegas.

“We were very much looking forward to being at Expo,” Strauss says. The Canadian organization had planned its own booth and reception; many of its distributor and supplier members made plans to attend on their own. “All of the people I’ve spoken to, myself included, were looking forward to reconnecting with our American friends and colleagues, most of whom we have not been able to see in person since the last time we were at Expo,” he says. Strauss isn’t sure how many Canadians will now back out in light of the new government advisory.

According to information released by The Public Health Agency of Canada last week, the country could expect to see 12,000 cases of COVID per day by mid-January. Canada reported just shy of 4,300 cases per the day between December 8-14. The U.S., with a population almost 10 times greater, experienced an average of 117,890 new cases per day between December 7-13 according to the CDC. Cases in the U.S. were up by roughly half over the previous month.

PPAI has announced numerous health and safety measures in advance of The PPAI Expo next month at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Onsite policies, such as face masks, will follow local ordinances and CDC recommendations.

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