The Canadian Transport Minister confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that Canada is ending its ban on flights from the United Kingdom at midnight.
As the new COVID-19 variant continues to spread within the borders of the UK, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Canada’s pre-departure testing protocols would be effective against stopping the transmission of the new variant.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadian officials have already put “significant measures” in place and have “acted quickly” in response to the situation in the United Kingdom.
At the time, Canada joined several other countries around the world to ban flights from the UK after a new mutation of the virus was found. UK health officials say the variant is 70% more transmissible than COVID-19.
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“The ban on UK flights, which was going until midnight tonight, will lapse. It will no longer be applicable,” Garneau said during Wednesday’s press conference.
“We have made the decision based on the fact that we have now put in place, since that original ban, a pre-departure testing protocol,” he continued. “That will replace the ban that existed for the UK and it applies, of course, to all countries in the world from which flights may come to Canada.”
The new travel restrictions are set to come into effect on Thursday, January 7, and mandates anyone flying into Canada to show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding.
The Government of Canada website says, “not respecting the mandatory requirements is a serious offence with consequences and penalties.” Violating any instructions before entering Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
Meanwhile, 11 cases of the COVID-19 variant have been reported in Canada.
Before the holidays, BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained that scientists detected 17 mutations of the virus in patients in the UK. She says it’s normal for viruses to mutate, especially RNA viruses such as COVID-19.
“This is an RNA virus. Which means it only has a single strand of genetic material. We have double-stranded, which gives us a spellchecker,” Henry said. “It doesn’t have a spellchecker, so we know mutations are more common in that type of virus.”