By Luis Armando Sanchez Diaz, February 21 2021—
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect millions of Canadians and the world, the federal government is streamlining their efforts to prevent more outbreaks in the country with new travel restrictions beginning Jan. 31. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that these restrictions will be in place until April 30.
The strategy comes at the time when Canada has reported more than 840,000 COVID-19 cases around the country and the deaths of over 21,000 Canadians as of Feb. 20. Ontario and Quebec continue being the worst hit provinces in both tallies.
The new travel measures are seen positively by Canadians as 86 per cent support the actions implemented by the federal government according to a new poll by Leger. Around the same number of Canadians think international travel should be completely stopped.
“The government and Canada’s main airlines have agreed to suspend service to sun destinations right away,” said Trudeau outside of Rideau Cottage. He proceeded by specifying that the Caribbean and Mexico were the routes halted by Canada’s main air carriers, Air Canada, Air Transat, WestJet and Sunwing.
The prime minister continued by stating that international flights will only be permitted to land at only four airports — Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.
Trudeau mentioned that the government will be requiring all passengers to get, upon their arrival at any of these airports, a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test which detects COVID-19 genetic molecules in the human body. The test is done by getting a nose swab and analyzed by a laboratory.
The PCR test will also be applicable to those that enter Canada by land. Travelers that arrive by air will also need to present a negative test performed within 72-hours prior boarding their flight with Canada as their destination.
Trudeau stated that non-essential travellers will then need “to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense which is expected to be more than $2,000,”
The hotel quarantine measure is set to begin on Feb. 22. Regardless of the way people are entering Canada, the government has expressed that they will be monitoring travellers to ensure they are complying with the rules. Those who fail to do so could face six months in prison or up to $750,000 in fines.
Some exceptions will be applied for “truckers and health-care workers,” as reported by Global News. In addition, Global News also reported that incoming refugees will have their hotel expenses covered by the government.