COVID-19: Canada Restricts Travelers from Outside North America

COVID-19Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced additional measures today to slow the spread of COVID-19 focusing on enhanced restrictions for travelers, including:

  • Closing Canada’s border to all travelers who are not Canadian Citizens, Permanent Residents of Canada (and in both cases, their families), U.S. citizens, flight crews and staff, and diplomats, effective 12:00 pm on Wednesday, March 18th.
    • Those still permitted to enter Canada will answer a questionnaire about their health when arriving at the border and will need to acknowledge an obligation to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Airlines are ordered under the Aeronautics Act to ban travelers presenting symptoms from boarding flights to Canada, including Canadian citizens.
    • A basic assessment will be required based on advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
    • A support program will be implemented to help asymptomatic Canadians return to Canada and to cover essential costs while awaiting their return to Canada.
  • Starting 12:01 am on Wednesday, March 18, international flights will be directed to four Canadian airports: Toronto Pearson, Montreal Trudeau, Vancouver International Airport, and Calgary International Airport.
    • Domestic flights and flights from the U.S., Mexico, St. Pierre and Miquelon, and the Caribbean are not affected by this change.
  • The Canadian Border and Security Agency (CBSA) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) will be enhancing screening at airports when passengers are processed from international travel.

The Government of Canada continues to recommend Canadians abroad return home while it is still possible to do so, and to self-isolate for 14 days upon return.

Ensuring Trade and Commerce

The Prime Minister noted that he consulted with the G-7 leaders and these restrictions would not apply to trade and commerce. Transport Minister Marc Garneau confirmed that measures would be taken to ensure that plane, train, and marine vessel crews, truck drivers, and persons whose profession requires cross-border travel will be able to cross the border.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland noted that the government is constantly reviewing practical measures to protect health and safety on both sides of the border. Health Minister Patty Hajdu called it a “continental response” and noted that she was going to be talking to her American and Mexican counterparts on a North American approach that is cautious, prudent, and does not pose further health risks, such as running out of essential goods.

The Canadian Government announcement comes hours after the European Commission proposed a one month ban on non-essential incoming foreign visitors to the European Union. Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a ban on most non-citizens who have been in the 26 European Union member countries from entering the U.S. for 30 days.

Asked about the exemption of U.S. citizens from Canada’s travel ban, Trudeau added “We recognize that the level of integration of our two economies and the coordination that we’ve had over the past while puts the U.S. in a separate category from the rest of the world.”

President Trump confirmed today that the United States has considered closing the border with Canada but not acted yet. “We think about it — we think about it, if we don’t have to do it that’ll be good,” he said. “We have very strong emergency powers when it comes to something like this, both on the southern and the northern borders. We are talking about different things, but we’ll see. Right now, we have not decided to do that.”

Additional Updates

  • Further economic support measures will happen as early as tomorrow: Support for Canadians – especially vulnerable Canadians – will be announced this week. This builds on the measures announced on Friday by Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
  • Health Canada daily briefings: Beginning tomorrow, Health Canada will provide daily updates at 12:00 pm EDT. Additional daily briefings will be provided to all Parliamentarians.
  • Coordinating approaches with the Provinces and Territories: The federal government also stated that information is flowing freely between various levels of government, including regular calls between First Ministers, to enable a country-wide approach.
  • Support for Indigenous and Northern Canadians: The Prime Minister specifically noted discussions with Indigenous leaders and the work of Indigenous Service Minister, Marc Miller, and Northern Affairs Minister, Dan Vandal, to reach out to partners in Indigenous and Northern communities.

Ongoing turbulence in world markets will likely require further stimulus to what was announced on Friday by Finance Minister, Bill Morneau. It is expected that further economic support will be announced in the days ahead and StrategyCorp will provide analysis content and analysis when this happens.

For all public health questions, please refer to local advisories.  For further assistance on what this may mean for you and your interactions with the federal government, please feel free to reach out to us.