OTTAWA – Travellers to Canada will have to quarantine in hotels at their own expense, and airlines are suspending flights to southern destinations, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday, further tightening restrictions to slow Covid-19’s spread.
New arrivals will have to pay to quarantine in hotels for up to three days under strict supervision, he told a news conference.
Ottawa is also stepping up Covid-19 testing, while Canadian airlines have agreed to cancel flights to destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean until the end of April.
“Now is just not the time to be flying,” said Trudeau.
The extra measures come as public health officials are increasingly concerned about the spread of more transmissible Covid-19 variants, as well as an uptick in Canadians taking vacations overseas this winter.
For weeks, Trudeau has been urging Canadians to cancel upcoming travel plans, warning that a crackdown was coming.
“By putting in place these tough measures now, we can look forward to a better time when we can all plan those vacations,” he said yesterday.
Starting next week, all incoming flights to Canada will be directed to land at one of only four airports, in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.
In addition to pre-boarding testing already required, travellers “as soon as possible in the coming weeks” will be given mandatory PCR testing upon arrival.
They will have to wait for those results in designated hotels for up to three days at their own expense, which Trudeau estimated will cost C$2,000 (RM6,330).
If their test returns negative, they will be permitted to complete their full 14-day quarantine at home “under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement”, he said.
Those with positive tests will be moved to a government quarantine facility.
Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat have committed to suspending flights to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico starting tomorrow.
The nation’s two largest carriers, Air Canada and WestJet, said they are suspending flights to up to 15 destinations in these countries for 90 days. Air Transat, meanwhile, has shuttered its operations.
Mexico, which relies heavily on tourism, hopes the measure “can be withdrawn as soon as possible in order to prevent a deep economic crisis in the North American region”, said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.
Non-essential travellers showing up at Canada’s land border with the United States will also be required to show a negative test before entry.
Canada last March closed its borders to most non-essential travellers, and required incoming ones to quarantine for 14 days.
However, several provincial leaders have called on the federal government for stricter measures and enforcement after a recent spike in the number of Canadians taking winter vacations abroad.
As of yesterday, the country recorded more than 769,000 Covid-19 cases and 19,000 deaths. – AFP, January 30, 2021