This article was updated on Thursday, March 26th at 9:05 a.m.
Prior to Wednesday, it was a plea and recommendation. Now, the call for incoming travellers to self-isolate is a legal obligation.
Starting Thursday (March 26th), all travellers arriving in Canada must now isolate themselves for a mandatory 14 days under the Quarantine Act.
Canada's Minister of Health Patty Hajdu confirmed the new measure during a parliamentary debate in the Senate on Wednesday.
"This new measure will provide the clarity for those re-entering the country about the essential need to self-isolate," she told the Senate, where she was discussing the Liberal government's $82 billion-dollar emergency legislation. "Individuals who exhibit symptoms upon arrival in Canada will be forbidden, also, from using public transit to travel to their places of isolation."
Travellers are also banned from quarantining in a place where they can come into contact with vulnerable people, Hajdu said, noting that the Public Health Agency of Canada will make arrangements for people in those circumstances.
Under the Quarantine Act, which was amended in 2005 during the SARS crisis, the Minister of Health can establish quarantine stations anywhere in Canada and impose penalties for those who don't comply.
For example: if a quarantine officer believes a traveller has refused to self-isolate, they can ask a peace officer to arrest that person and bring them into quarantine.
Maximum penalties include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.
Further, a person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while wilfully or recklessly contravening this Act or the regulations could be liable for a fine of up to $1,000,000 or to imprisonment of up to three years, or to both, states the Government of Canada's website.
Spot checks will be conducted by the Government of Canada to verify compliance.
Hajdu also indicated that a "hotline" may be established so Canadians can report offenders, CBC News reports.