Canadian Government puts the squeeze on World Cup qualifier
Bermuda’s opening 2022 World Cup qualifying fixture has been thrown in doubt after the Canadian Government imposed stricter restrictions on travellers to combat a more contagious variant of Covid-19.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced yesterday that the country was suspending airline service to Mexico and all Caribbean destinations from January 31 until April 30.
The stricter restrictions also include mandatory PCR testing at the airport for people returning to Canada, as well as making it mandatory for travellers to quarantine in hotels at their own expense when they arrive in the country.
Canada already requires those entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days and to present a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days before arrival.
Bermuda are scheduled to play group B favourites Canada on March 25.
Mark Wade, president of the Bermuda Football Association, and David Sabir, the general secretary, could not be reached for comment last night.
Bermuda’s travel plans had been already affected significantly after flights run by Air Canada to Bermuda were temporarily suspended last week until at least April 12.
The airline initially said that its weekly Toronto to Bermuda service would be suspended after its January 8 flight until February 12 “reflecting current market conditions”.
But it later announced that services across the network would be further reduced as part of its Covid-19 Mitigation and Recovery Plan.
Bermuda are also scheduled to host Aruba in their second World Cup qualifier at the National Sports Centre on March 30. They will then face Surinam and Cayman Islands in their remaining group qualifying matches.
The Gombey Warriors were meant to begin qualifying in October but have been delayed by the pandemic.
The domestic season was also suspended on December 6 after the Ministry of Health invoked Section 88 of the Public Health Act 1949 to combat the dramatic rise in the Covid-19 cases.
The national team resumed training this week after the Government eased Covid-19 restrictions.
Non-exempt gatherings have been increased from a maximum of ten to 25, paving the way for football clubs to return to full training.
“We are back in training; limited training until the Government change the situation as far as having contact training,” Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, said.