Despite ongoing travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s airports are apparently getting busier. And now, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is stepping in.
According to a recent report by Global News, international passengers arriving at Canadian airports each week has doubled in the past two months and the number of people crossing the Canada-U.S. border has also increased.
As a result, the Canadian government is stationing more public health officials at Canada’s busiest airports – across 36 points of entry – to screen incoming passengers for COVID-19.
Quarantine and clinical screening officers are also being placed at the Canada-U.S. land border to prevent people from travelling if they are sick.
It started 8 weeks ago
This is the first time health officials have been positioned at the border since the pandemic first began, Global News points out.
According to a PHAC spokesperson, the process started eight weeks ago and will be ongoing.
“An increased presence of PHAC officials is being implemented at 36 high-volume points of entry, including air and land, that see 90 per cent of current incoming traveller volumes,” Tammy Jarbeau, a Health Canada spokesperson, told the news outlet.
Travel has doubled
According to weekly travel statistics tallied by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the number of international air travellers arriving at Canada’s airports, including flights from the U.S., increased from an average of about 15,000 people a week between late April and early May to 30,000 a week by mid- to late June.
The doubling in numbers suggests that more people are going against Canada’s non-essential travel advisory and travelling as they see fit.
The Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to all non-essential travel. However, some travellers have managed to find loopholes in the system (For example: Canadians can still travel to the U.S., just as a long as it’s by airplane).
Stories of vacationing Americans illegally crossing the Canadian border in Western Canada via what’s being called the "Alaska loophole” – a rule observed by the CBSA that lets U.S. citizens into Canada in order to get home to Alaska – have also surfaced in recent weeks.
Two federal orders
The CBSA is currently enforcing two federal orders that restrict travellers from entering Canada.
The first limits entry for all foreign nationals who arrive directly from another country other than the U.S. (For example: anyone who arrives on an international flight and is neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident).
An exception would be if a foreign national has an immediate family member living in Canada.
Others who are exempt from the rules include essential workers, airline crews, international students with valid visas and medical professionals with worked linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second order is banning non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. land border, a directive that was recently extended until July 21st.
All incoming passengers to Canada are also bound to a mandatory 14-day self-isolation order, as per Canada’s Quarantine Act.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!