Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
The Canadian government is indeed beefing up its already-strict travel restrictions and an official announcement is coming soon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday (Jan. 26).
Reiterating Canada’s non-essential travel advisory, mandatory 14-day quarantine order and pre-departure testing requirements, Trudeau reminded Canadians not to travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The measures work. They’re saving lives,” Trudeau told reporters at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa. “That’s why our friends and allies are following suit.”
(The United States now requires a negative COVID-19 test from international arrivals before flying back into the country, for instance, and has also announced a quarantine period).
READ MORE: Mandatory hotel quarantine is a “possibility that we are examining," says Trudeau
Trudeau acknowledged that travel isn’t a super spreader for COVID-19 (1.8 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Canada are connected to international travel, Ottawa says).
“We know that, right now, only a small proportion of infections are caused by Canadians coming back to the country,” Trudeau said, speaking in French. “That being said, let me be clear, every case is a case too many.”
As far as introducing new rules, “all options are on the table,” he said, noting that an announcement will be made in the coming days.
“Please avoid all non-essential travel, be it abroad or to another province,” he said.
The government’s attitude towards travel restrictions has shifted in recent weeks with the emergence of COVID-19 variants, which are now being reported in Canada.
“We will not hesitate to take tougher measures if and when they’re needed,” he said. “The bad choices of a few will never be allowed to put everyone else in danger.”
On Monday (Jan 25), Ontario Premier Doug Ford urged the federal government to tighten national travel and border rules.
“There’s no reason we need people coming in,” Ford told reporters. “This has to stop. It’s absolutely critical.”
Ford has also called for the mandatory testing of all international arrivals.
On Sunday (Jan 26), Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau told CBC that the federal government isn’t ruling out invoking the Emergencies Act to further restrict non-essential travel.
READ MORE: Canada eyeing COVID-19 testing at U.S. land border
The Emergencies Act gives cabinet the power to regulate or prohibit travel "to, from or within any specified area, where necessary for the protection of the health or safety of individuals."
"We are looking at all potential actions to make sure that we can achieve our aims. The Emergencies Act is something you don't consider lightly," Garneau said.
Studying the situation
Trudeau was quick to point out on Tuesday that Canada has already implemented “some of the strictest measures” to discourage travel.
Canada closed its borders in March 2020 to everyone for whom Canada is not home.
“We want to make sure the additional measures will be the right ones,” Trudeau said. “We know very well that we depend on planes coming from everywhere in the world for food, for pharmaceutical, for the delivery of essential goods…We don’t want to interrupt supply chains that Canadians depend on.”
“We are closely studying what additional measures we can take to add to the already-strict measures we have.”
Last Friday, the Prime Minister suggested that the government is looking at new measures that may include making quarantining at a hotel mandatory for all travellers.
Trudeau has also said that he is looking at banning certain flights, “if necessary,” as coronavirus variants spread.
“These measures will make it more difficult for Canadians to come home after a trip,” Trudeau told reporters last week.
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