Canada adds new quarantine rules for incoming travellers

Shelby Thevenot
Published: April 16, 2020

Furthering the quarantine rules already in place for travellers to Canada, the federal government is now requiring arrivals to provide a credible quarantine plan and wear a mask on the way to their destination.

The new rules state that travellers will need to confirm that they have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine upon arrival even if they are not showing symptoms of COVID-19. They are expected to already have made plans to stay in a suitable place to stay for the mandatory 14-day isolation period before arriving in Canada. A “suitable place” would have access to basic necessities such as food and medicine, and it cannot be in a place where they would be in contact with seniors or other individuals who might be vulnerable to the virus. Exceptions will be made if the vulnerable person consents to allow the traveller to stay with them, according to the Order in Council.

“As our knowledge about COVID-19 evolves, we continue to adjust our response to this epidemic,” Patty Hajdu, Canada’s minister of health, said in a media release. “These changes will make it clearer to asymptomatic travellers arriving in Canada that they need to have an appropriate place to self-isolate, where they will not put any vulnerable people such as adults aged 65 years or over and people with pre-existing medical conditions at risk.”

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If travellers do not have an appropriate place to isolate or quarantine themselves, they must go to a place designated by Canadian health officials, such as a hotel. This now also applies to asymptomatic travellers. If they develop symptoms or come into contact with another person in mandatory quarantine, the 14 days starts over.

In addition, all new arrivals must wear a non-medical mask or face covering to proceed to their final destination where they will self-isolate. Canada will provide them with one if they do not have their own.

“Canada’s response to COVID-19 is based on the latest scientific evidence.” Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, said in the release. “As we learn more about this illness, we must adapt our public health measures and our border measures appropriately.”

There are exceptions to these new rules that have been in effect since “one minute after midnight” on April 15.

Those who cross the border regularly to provide essential services to Canadians or who ensure the continued flow of goods and services are exempt from the requirement to quarantine themselves as long as they do not have coronavirus symptoms. However, these individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering upon entry into Canada and while in transit.

The Government of Canada will be conducting spot checks to verify compliance. The maximum penalties for non-compliance could mean a fine of up to $750,000, six months in jail, or both. If they are found to have caused a risk of death or bodily harm to another person while violating COVID-19 prevention regulations they could be liable for a fine of up to one million dollars, imprisonment for up to three years, or both.

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