Posted on March 16, 2020

Canada to Close Borders to Most Non-Citizens, Stop Ill Travellers from Boarding Inbound Flights, PM Announces

Ryan Tumilty, National Post, March 16, 2020

Canada will deny entry to people who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents, Prime Minister Trudeau announced Monday in Ottawa.

The American land border will remain open and Canadians abroad can return into the country, but the door is being slammed close on visitors from elsewhere. The government also intends to continue to allow trade with other countries and exceptions will be carved out for diplomats and people with family in the country.

The prime minister said the government would also mandate that airlines would have to do a basic health assessment of anyone travelling to Canada, including citizens. “Anyone who has symptoms will not be able to come to Canada.” The sweeping travel restrictions come as Canada passed 320 confirmed cases of the disease over the weekend.

These measures come days after American president Donald Trump announced a 30-day travel ban on citizens of 26 European countries that took effect from midnight last Friday.

Over the weekend, the government announced any Canadians abroad should try and come home by commercial means as soon as possible. Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government would no longer be able to do mass repatriation flights. The flights from abroad that are coming in will also be directed to only four airports in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

This measure will not impact American flights, or those from the Caribbean or Mexico.

Late last week, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said a similar ban of imposing border measures between our country and the United States wouldn’t work.

“Canadians think we can stop this at the border. But what we see is a global pandemic, which means that border measures are highly ineffective and, in some cases, can create harm. We see that in countries that had the worst expressions, the tightest borders,” Hajdu explained Friday.

On Monday, Trudeau said advice regarding border restrictions have changed since last week, where public health officials were largely pushing social distancing measures.