OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that, beginning March 18, the Government of Canada will bar foreign nationals from all countries, except the U.S., from entering Canada via air travel.
The announcement was a shock to many, given Trudeau’s recent statements that he wouldn’t consider such measures.
“My top priority is the health and safety of all Canadians,” says Trudeau. “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 measure is intended to protect Canadians and to ease the potential burden overseas travellers could place on our health care system and its frontline workers.
The ban will not apply to specific 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.
“The measures we announced today to temporarily prevent foreign nationals from flying into Canada will help reduce the threat from international travel,” says Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “We continue to closely monitor the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation and will announce additional measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians if and when required.”
Along with the travel ban, new measures announced include redirecting international passenger-flight arrivals to four airports: Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Trudeau International Airport and Calgary International Airport. Domestic flights or flights from the U.S., 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 at this time.
In addition, airlines will prevent all travellers who present COVID-19 symptoms — regardless of their citizenship — from boarding international flights to Canada.
“The safety and security of the travelling public and the transportation system is a top priority for our Government,” says Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport. “These measures will help ensure that Canadian travellers remain safe and our transportation system continues to operate as smoothly as possible to support the economy.”
The Government has also created the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad, which 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 latest measures build upon the whole-of-government-response announced earlier this month, which includes waiving the one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance sickness benefits and enhancing the Work-Sharing Program.