Canadians should cancel or postpone all non-essential travel, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters at a press conference on Friday (March 13).
Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau also unveiled new measures for cruise ships, stating that all ships transporting more than 500 people (both crew and passengers combined) will not be allowed to stop in Canada until July 1st.
Garneau said the provision will apply to the Arctic for the entire 2020 season due to “inadequate health resources” in those regions.
Smaller ships (ferry ships included) will still be allowed to dock in Canada. However, such vessels will be subjected “additional health measures,” Garneau said.
“These decisions were not easy to make,” Garneau told reporters.
Additionally, all overseas flights entering Canada will be concentrated to a smaller number of airports, Garneau said.
The Minister said Ottawa is still determining which airports would allow international flights.
Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, urged Canadians to stay put as officials move to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“By choosing to remain in the country, you can protect your family and do your part to help us flatten the curve and slow the spread of coronavirus and protect the most vulnerable among us,” Dr. Njoo said.
He added: “If you are travelling abroad, you may have to submit to measures that are in place…Your one-week trip might be lasting much longer.”
Njoo stressed importance of social distancing to prevent the the spread of COVID-19, such as avoiding public transit during peak times and avoiding large gatherings.
People arriving from Hubei, China, Iran and Italy have already been asked to self-isolate.
"...a Team Canada effort.”
Speaking from his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation shortly after.
“The provinces and territories are facing various levels of risk, we will make sure we align our response across the country,” Trudeau told reporters.
Trudeau is currently in self-isolation at home after his wife, Sophie, recently tested positive for COVID-19.
The Prime Minister said that he does not, nor do his children, have symptoms of COVID-19, confirming that he will be in isolation for 14 days.
In addition to the measures previously announced, Trudeau added that his government will be implementing additional screening measures at airports.
The Canadian Government announced a $1 billion-dollar response fund to COVID-19 earlier this week, aimed at providing money to the provinces and territories as they deal with the preparation and mitigation of COVID-19.
On the government’s plan to reduce the number of airports that accept international passengers, Trudeau said the measures were designed to “better streamline those passengers and asses them to ensure the safety of Canada.”
Trudeau added that the Government will also be looking at the origins of flights to determine if other steps are required.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the financial hit that Canadians will experience as a result of COVID-19, stating that his government will be introducing a fiscal stimulus package in the days ahead.
“Addressing COVID-19 must be a Team Canada effort,” Trudeau said.
This is a developing story.