Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that new pandemic measures for travel are coming and Canadians should cancel any travel plans.
Trudeau said that even though existing travel control measures have been effective in keeping the number of infections low, more effort will be needed going forward.
“Obviously, extremely low is still not zero and one case is too many if we’re importing, particularly considering the variants out there,” Trudeau said.
“Because we already have some of the strongest measures anywhere, we have to be very careful as we move forward on even further measures.
“One just has to remember that we are reliant on supply chains from around the world for food, for goods, for essential medications and we do not want measures that we are going to be bringing in … to have an impact on those essential supply chains.”
As an example, Trudeau pointed to the fact that essential cargo is often transported in the holds of passenger aircraft and he does not want to interfere with those imports.
The prime minister said his government is working “carefully and diligently” on new measures and will have more to say in the next few days.
Canada has had a ban on non-essential travel into the country by anyone who isn’t a citizen or permanent resident since March, but it can’t as easily bar the flow of Canadians in and out of the country.
Trudeau pointed out that most people who return from abroad must quarantine for two weeks and they face financial penalties or jail time if they do not. Most are also now required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before arriving in Canada.
That requirement went into effect on Jan. 7. Government data show that, since then, dozens of flights have landed in Canada carrying passengers who were later found to be COVID-19 positive.
As of last week, about 1.15 per cent of travellers arriving in Calgary and participating in a pilot COVID-19 testing program have been found to be infected with the virus. A similar project underway at Toronto’s Pearson airport reportedly has a positivity rate of just over 2 per cent.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who had pushed the federal government to launch the testing program, is expected to visit the airport Tuesday.