Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today, March 16, outlined additional actions being taken under the Government of Canada’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19 to limit its spread and to provide support to Canadian travellers.
The Prime Minister also strongly urged Canadians to heed the following recommendations that:
– All Canadians avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice.
– Canadian travellers return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available.
– All travellers to Canada self-isolate for 14 days upon entry, with exceptions for workers who are essential to the movement of goods and people.
Federal officials say to protect Canadians and to ease the potential burden overseas travellers could place on Canada’s health care system and its frontline workers, the Prime Minister announced that, beginning March 18, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. EDT, the Government of Canada will, for air travel specifically:
– Bar foreign nationals from all countries except the United States from entering Canada. The measure would not apply in designated exceptional circumstances, including to air crews, travellers arriving in Canada in transit to a third country, Canadian permanent residents, diplomats, or immediate family members of Canadian citizens.
– Redirect international passenger flight arrivals to four airports: Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, and Calgary International Airport. At this time, this measure will not affect domestic flights or flights from the United States, sun destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean, or St. Pierre-et-Miquelon, which can continue to operate on their regular routes and land at current Canadian destinations. The Government is working closely with the airline industry and airports to avoid unnecessarily disrupting operations and minimize additionally inconveniencing travellers.
– Strengthen screening measures at airports, including stronger and more visible messaging, health screening at kiosks, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic areas and facilities at airports.
Federal officials added in addition, airlines will prevent all travellers who present COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their citizenship, from boarding international flights to Canada. Airlines will conduct a basic health assessment of all air travellers based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“My top priority is the health and safety of all Canadians,” Prime Minister Trudeau said in a statement.
“Our government is doing what it must to protect all Canadians, and to support workers and businesses. We will get through this together by following the directions from our public health and medical experts, and doing what we can to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities.”
The Government will also provide support to Canadians affected by COVID-19 abroad.
To help these Canadians return home or cope with challenges they are facing while travelling, the Government has created the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad.
The Program will provide the option of an emergency loan to Canadians in need of immediate financial assistance to help them return home or to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return.
These measures are part of a larger strategy the Government of Canada is implementing, based on science, to prioritize the health and safety of Canadians, ensure the capacity of our health care system, support international and domestic efforts, and mitigate the economic impacts on Canadians and Canadian business.
Today’s announcement builds on earlier measures put in place to respond to COVID-19, including waiving the one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance sickness benefits, enhancing the Work-Sharing Program, funding vaccine development and clinical trials, and investing to support the health care system in our provinces and territories.
The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on Wednesday. Details, here.
For a list of local cancellations, postponement and further updates, click here.