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Edmonton woman recalls COVID travel nightmare getting home

Fredette Kopola was unable to re-enter Canada.

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An Edmonton woman had to pay hundreds of dollars for COVID-19 tests after suffering a travel nightmare trying to get back into the country from a trip to the US.

Fredette Kopola decided she didn’t want to spend Christmas alone at home so she booked a flight to visit a friend in Pennsylvania, on December 16, 2020 returning on January 7, 2021.

During the last week of her stay, Kopola said she became aware of looming regulations about having a required COVID-19 test before reentering the country but said nothing seemed set in stone to her.

“On the Monday before my flight I started to look to get a COVID test before I flew out so I would be on the safe side. I couldn’t find one near to where I was and I didn’t have my own transportation but I found a testing centre at the airport,” she recalled.

“I went online and was able to easily book a test for that evening and the airport was nearby to where I was. I quickly went to the airport, but found out I couldn’t take the test, because it was on the other side of security.”

With her flight home leaving Thursday, Kopola booked another test then, when she would be able to get through the security gate for a connecting flight to Detroit.

“I got to the airport early and went to the COVID test location, but their satellite location was having computer issues and they didn’t know when it would be fixed. The worker apologized to me and said they didn’t have ready access to IT help,” she said.

“My flight was scheduled to leave in another 45 minutes, so I didn’t know what to do other than continue on and hope that I could either get a Rapid test & PCR test in Detroit or Toronto airport, or they would understand that my attempt to get one in Pennsylvania didn’t work, through no fault of my own and I had paperwork showing it.”

After arriving for a quick layover in Detroit, Kopola made her way to the Delta gate to get a connection to Toronto, then on to Edmonton. She was told there were no testing facilities at the airport and to ask Google for a facility nearby and go in a taxi.

“I was in complete disbelief and dejected that this is how Canada would handle this situation. They could do more to allow their own citizens back home, but instead left them out stranded wherever they happened to be. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t allowed back into my own country. I started to cry and ended up crying the entire time I was in the taxi going to the clinic and cried again later on when I returned to the airport.

Kopola said she had to wait 30 minutes at the facility she was taken before she was even let in the building, time she had to sit in the cab with the meter running.

Once inside she had to cough up $130US for the first test and $110US for a Rapid Test, to be topped off with a $146US bill for the cab ride and wait.

“Thank God for credit cards,” she said.

“When I went back to the Delta counter and tried to re-book a flight, the customer service person wouldn’t let me re-book until the results were returned. I tried to explain that the worker at the gate said I could re-book with a Rapid Test. They were actually rude and abrupt. I broke down crying again and then she said I should talk to her supervisor. That ended up being the only light on the trip, because the supervisor got me a paid hotel room for the night until the results came in and I could take a shuttle bus to the hotel.”

At the airport the next afternoon, Lopola encountered another traveller heading for Toronto, who didn’t speak much English, and had trouble understanding all the regulations.

“He became confused, so I tried to help him and explain that he would need the test results before Canada would let him into the country. I told him the same thing happened to me the day before and I tried to explain what clinic I went to for the test and how much it cost. He said he didn’t have enough money. He kept waiting to see if he would get onto the plane in the end, but he never did.  As I was on the plane I could see him sitting in the waiting area, alone, just like I was the day before.”

Lopola was eventually allowed into the country at Toronto and was able to catch a flight home.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Charles Martell III

    January 15, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    Delta is the anti-Conservative Airline . . . do not fly !

    It’s flu season folks . . . this insanity will continue till April . . .
    Canada is fast becoming a CCP outpost . . .

    • John

      January 15, 2021 at 7:45 pm

      Not only Delta, any west European airline is better than the best north American. …and don’t get me started on Air Canada.

      • Charles Martell III

        January 16, 2021 at 12:14 pm

        In the 80s Canada’s favorite Airline was CP Air . . .
        Air Canada got massive Govt handouts every year . . . by the early 90s CP was done.
        Had several friends who worked for CP . . . killed by Govt !

        Went to Europe several times in the early 2000s . . . found my best route was through Chicago where SAS has direct flights to Stockholm.

  2. godot

    January 15, 2021 at 11:36 am

    This is all part of conditioning the public for the Great Reset. We, the little people are not meant to travel, so the travel process is being turned into a nightmare for us. The elite are exempted from all the hoops we are forced to jump through. It has recently been reported that Meng Wanzhou’s husband and two children have arrived in Canada to spend time with her. They were exempted from all travel restrictions.
    WILDROSE INDEPENDENCE PARTY OF ALBERTA

  3. Spaceman Spiff

    January 15, 2021 at 11:36 am

    Geez, this is truly unfortunate. If only she had picked up a newspaper, turned on a radio or TV, or scanned the Internet over the last 10 months.

  4. ninetyninepct

    January 15, 2021 at 9:58 am

    Just yet another Liberal successful decision. What a bunch of clowns. How is it that any intelligent Canadian could even consider voting for them?

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BC removes capacity limits in some areas, but only if you’re double vaccinated

The change comes into effect October 25, and it applies to indoor sporting events, concerts, theatres, weddings, funeral receptions outside of a funeral home, and organized parties.

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British Columbia will be seeing some restrictions eased for those who have can prove two doses of vaccination against COVID-19.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Tuesday that capacity limits for events and gatherings throughout much of the province — where proof-of-vaccination is required — will be lifted.

The change comes into effect October 25, and it applies to indoor sporting events, concerts, theatres, weddings, funeral receptions outside of a funeral home, and organized parties.

Health officials will also be removing the requirement to stay seated at restaurants.

The changes do not apply to regional restrictions in effect in Interior Health, Northern Health, and eastern Fraser Valley.

Personal gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, are restricted to fully vaccinated people throughout the Northern Health region, with the exception of Terrace, Kitimat, Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Stikine, and the Nisga’a areas.

Indoor mask requirements remain in effect for all indoor gatherings and events.

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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WORLD WATCH: U.K. warns of new COVID variant as cases rise yet Japan numbers plummet

Experts are taking a close look at AY.4.2. to see how much of a threat it may pose, but say it is not yet considered a “variant of concern”.

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News reports out of the U.K. are linking an uptick in cases to a new variant that “could be 10 times more infectious than Delta,” yet Japan is seeing some of their lowest case counts since this time last year.

According to the latest official data out of the U.K., an increase in COVID-19 cases includes a genetically sequenced variant labelled AY.4.2 accounting for 6% of new cases.

Graph courtesy worldometers.info

The new strain, some call “Delta Plus”, is said to contain mutations that could give the virus “survival advantages” and could make it more contagious.

Experts are taking a close look at AY.4.2. to see how much of a threat it may pose, but say it is not yet considered a “variant of concern”.

Meanwhile, reports from Japan say a very different narrative where cases have mysteriously plummeted over the last two months.

Low case rates have not been the norm in Japan throughout the pandemic. However, despite the 2020 Summer Olympics being postponed to the summer of 2021 and Japan seeing some of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the world at times, the country has never implemented any full lockdowns.

Over the last two months, rates in Japan went from over 26,121 new cases recorded on August 22 to 494 new cases as of Monday.

Graph courtesy worldometers.info

Some are crediting the incredible turnaround to a late but rapid uptake in vaccinations. Others say it could have something to do with bad August weather in the latter part of the month that kept people home.

Officials are still trying to determine the cause of the huge decline in cases and experts are warning Japan could face another surge with the gradual waning of vaccine efficacy as well as heading into the colder winter months.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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News

EXCLUSIVE: Chu vows not to resign, apologizes and speaks out on allegations

Chu speaks out after allegations against him come to light.

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Embattled Calgary Councillor Sean Chu says he has no intention of resigning, but has apologized to a woman he had a sexual encounter with 24 years ago.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any harm,” Chu told the Western Standard in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

City of Calgary officials confirmed Chu won the election race in Ward 4 by a mere 52 votes after allegations surfaced last week of his involvement in August of 1997 with a girl who was just 16 at the time.

“This was nothing but a political assassination,” said Chu.

Chu, who has represented Ward 4 since 2013, also fired back at some media reports which he claims were completely wrong.

Chu said he met the unidentified girl at a pub near Macleod Tr. and 94 Ave. S and not the Husky House restaurant downtown that some media had reported.

“Because it was a licensed establishment I thought the girl was at least 18 years old,” said Chu, who was in uniform with his partner at the time.

“I was single at the time and I thought some girl liked me.”

The Western Standard cannot confirm at this time if there is documentary evidence the encounter was at the Husky House or at the pub on Macleod Tr.

At some point in their interaction, Chu caressed the girl’s leg, an incident that later earned him a letter of reprimand on his file.

Chu said the girl seemed interested in him so when he was off duty he changed into civilian clothes and went back to the pub to meet the girl.

The evening continued with Chu and the girl eventually heading to his home.

Once there, the pair “started kissing and hugging, but there was no intercourse,” said Chu.

Chu admits there was “some touching underneath clothes”.

“She then said she wanted to go home and I drove her straight there.”

Chu denied media reports that a gun was produced during the evening at his home. He said he checked his service weapon in at the police’s traffic office when he signed off duty.

At one point Chu said he owned a shotgun, but denied that weapon was ever produced or shown in any way that night.

“If there had been a gun involved there would have been charges,” said Chu.

The Western Standard has not seen any documents that indicate the presence or absence of a firearm on the evening in question.

Chu said he does not drink alcohol, but added he didn’t know if the girl had been drinking.

After the incident, the girl reported the case to city police claiming she was sexually assaulted. That lead to nine years of investigations, court battles and appeals, with news of the case only leaking last week, days before the civil election.

There were never any sexual assault or weapons charges laid, and Chu says the letter of reprimand was the only discipline that came out of the entire process.

Documents obtained by the Western Standard and other media indicate that the woman claimed the whole process was a “cover-up.”

Chu served as a Calgary police officer from 1992 until he was elected in 2013.

Chu is now at the centre of a political storm with friends and supporters deserting him.

Premier Jason Kenney described the allegations as “appalling” but said he didn’t think there was any way for the province to remove a councillor who han’t been convicted under the Criminal Code.

He said he would be happy to meet with Mayor-Elect Jyoti Gondek to discuss the situation.

Kenney said as much of the legal documents are under seal, it’s up to Chu to prove his innocence.

Calgary-Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner tweeted her disgust at the incident.

“I have supported Mr. Chu in the past, but firmly withdraw all such support in light of these reports. Believing women means walking the talk,” she tweeted.

“In light of the disciplinary action, as a result of inappropriate contact with a minor which has been reported by CBC Calgary, MP Rempel Garner is formally withdrawing her endorsement of Councillor Sean Chu and he is no longer a member of her Constituency Association.”

Rempel Garner tweet

Now Chu said he is looking at his legal options and a possible defamation suit over some of what he called the false reporting.

“I have always told the truth. My reputation is important to me and now my family is hurting,” said Chu.

Chu said he wouldn’t comment on remarks made by Gondek that she will try and remove him from council.

“I will continue to tell the truth at council and will be a fiscal hawk,” he said.

“The most important thing is I told the truth and the truth will prevail.”

It appears any bid to try and remove Chu would fail because he was not charged or convicted criminally.

Calgary police released a statement Monday about its investigation in 1997. It states:

“We want to reassure Calgarians that when this matter came to light in 1997 it was taken seriously by the Service and managed in accordance with the Police Act. This has been a complex legal matter with multiple complaints and investigations as well as appeals to the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board. One of those decisions was overturned by the Alberta Court of Appeal. Ultimately, one allegation of misconduct was sustained through our internal disciplinary process.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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