Canada is taking more aggressive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday.
The country is closing its borders to anyone who’s not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Starting at noon Eastern Time on Wednesday, March 18, foreign nationals will not be allowed to board flights to Canada, federal public health officials said. There will be exceptions, such as Canadian citizens’ immediate family, airline workers, travellers with a layover in Canada, and diplomats.
At this time, Trudeau said the measure doesn’t apply to US citizens or to flights coming from Mexico and the Caribbean.
“We recognize the level of integration of our two economies puts the US in a separate category from the rest of the world,” Trudeau said, adding that the situation could change in the coming days.
“We are not closing the door to any measure that could keep Canadians safe.”
Airline operators will also be required to screen all travellers for symptoms of the virus to prevent sick people from boarding.
“Anyone who has symptoms can’t come to Canada,” Trudeau said.
The government will financially assist Canadians abroad who are having trouble coming home, Trudeau said. The fund will provide money to book a flight or pay for accommodation and basic necessities abroad.
Starting Wednesday, most international flights will only be allowed to land at four major airports:
- Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
- Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
- Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
- Calgary International Airport (YYC)
The federal government has said this measure was coming so that border officers could properly screen arrivals for symptoms.
Border guards will have arrivals fill out forms stating if they have a fever or cough and will refer suspected cases to public health authorities. People coming into the country must also acknowledge they’re being asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
The travel restrictions won’t apply to exchange and trade, because Canada doesn’t want to interrupt the flow of goods coming to the country, Trudeau said. The country is also committing $10 billion to help Canadian businesses impacted by the pandemic.
He addressed Canadians from self-isolation at his Ottawa home, where he’s remained since his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, was diagnosed with COVID-19.
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With coronavirus on the rise, Health Canada is reminding individuals who attend events and large gatherings to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. Also, due to unexpected cancellations, please check the event you plan to attend is still taking place. Keep up with COVID-19 news here.