Canada extends international travel restrictions into February

Alexandra Miekus
Published: January 20, 2021

Canada is extending restrictions on non-US international travel until February 21, 2021.

The month-long travel restrictions extension was announced by federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair today.

"Our Government will never hesitate to take the strong action needed to keep Canadians safe from COVID-19 while maintaining essential trade with our international partners," Blair wrote in a tweet.

Blair had also announced last week that the restrictions imposed on U.S. travellers will be valid until at least February 21. The Canada-U.S. border has been closed since March to non-essential travel and this joint decision by Washington and Ottawa has been extended several times.

To protect Canadians from COVID-19, the federal government has also had international travel restriction measures in place since March to limit travel to Canada. The restrictions prohibit most non-essential or discretionary travel to the country.

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Canadian citizens and residents may, however, return to Canada and welcome immediate and extended family members among a number of other exemptions.

Since January 7, 2021, Canada requires every international air traveller aged five years or older to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test done within 72 hours of the traveller's planned departure for Canada. This negative PCR test is required before a person is allowed to board any flight bound for Canada.

Transport Canada announced the pre-departure testing requirements on December 31. The pre-departure test requirements do not exempt travellers from having to complete a 14-day quarantine period. A quarantine plan must be prepared prior to arrival in Canada to specify where and how it will be carried out.

Travellers to Canada must also use the ArriveCAN app to send their information to Canadian border services officers and learn how to comply with coronavirus measures at the border. The application is to be used by all incoming travellers to conduct daily self-assessments and share contact tracing information so it can be shared with the provinces and territories to ensure that the quarantine process is completed.

Quarantine is enforced in Canada and those who break it may be subject to fines and imprisonment.

In recent days, the Canada Border Services Agency and government officials have suggested that restrictions and controls on travellers could be tightened. Quebec Premier François Legault also called on the federal government on Tuesday to ban non-essential international flights during a briefing on the coronavirus.

Recent outbreaks of new variants of the virus and the resurgence of cases in several countries around the world contribute to these concerns. Additional control rules could include further screening measures or changes to border control procedures.

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in many parts of Canada, with a total of over 723,920 cases reported on January 20. Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec are seeing glimmers of hope in efforts to curb the spread of the infection, although authorities in these provinces believe it is still too early to consider easing existing restrictions.


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