Canada shutting the border to most non-citizens due to COVID-19: Trudeau
March 16, 2020
Exceptions will be in place for U.S. citizens, diplomats, crew and immediate family members of citizens
Canada is barring entry to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or Americans, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today — one of a set of extraordinary new measures being introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19.
There will be exceptions for air crew, diplomats, immediate family members of citizens and, “at this time,” U.S. citizens, Trudeau said.
The prime minister also said no one who is displaying symptoms will be permitted to board a flight to Canada, and that air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every passenger based on guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“I know this news will spark concern among Canadians travelling abroad. I want to assure you that our government will not leave you unsupported,” he said.
“To help asymptomatic Canadians to return home, our government will set up a support program for Canadians who need to get on a plane. Canadian travellers will be able to get financial assistance to help them with the costs of returning home or temporarily covering basic needs while they wait to come back to Canada.”
Trudeau also said that as of March 18, international flights will be permitted to land only at the international airports in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, in order to enhance screening.
“I know that these measures are far-reaching. They are exceptional circumstances calling for exceptional measures,” he said.
Trudeau said the new border controls will not apply to trade and commerce in order to keep Canada’s supply chains open.
An official in the PMO said the measures will be in place “as long as necessary” because the situation is “evolving.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the decision to keep the border open to Americans was made to reflect the integration of the two economies and populations, and to maintain essential supply lines for things like food.
“That border is absolutely vital to the daily lives of the people who live on both sides of that border,” she said.
Everyone arriving in Canada from another country is now going to be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Essential workers, including air crews and truck drivers, will be exempted from that rule, Freeland said.
Canada’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Monday that new measures are necessary to slow the spread of the virus. She’s now recommending that gatherings of 50 or more people should be avoided.
“All Canadians must act now to interrupt chains of transmission,” she said.
Providing updated COVID-19 numbers, Tam said there are now more than 175,000 cases around the world, including 407 in Canada.