Travellers returning to Canada from abroad are facing a new order requiring them to self-isolate, the latest measure from a government trying to deal with both a rise in COVID-19 cases and the growing economic fallout.
The measure, which makes some exceptions for health-care workers and truckers, allows for fines and even jail times for people who ignore the order to stay home.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said on Twitter that people coming into Canada at ports of entry will be asked to make a declaration.
“We are implementing the Quarantine Act to keep all Canadians safe,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday, calling decisions by some to ignore the call to self-isolate for two weeks “disappointing” and “dangerous.”
When asked why the quarantine measure wasn’t introduced sooner, Trudeau said “the vast majority” of Canadians have been following public health guidelines and taking the precautions necessary to protect themselves and others. But, he said, “there have been too many people who have not,” which required the use of a rule with enforcement measures.
Speaking outside his home at Rideau Cottage on Thursday, Trudeau said his government, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam and the country’s premiers had all been clear that people needed to follow the call for a 14-day quarantine when entering Canada. But given that some travellers were not self-isolating, tougher measures were needed, he said.
Contact information will be collected from incoming travellers when they pass through the border for followup, which could include random checks to ensure they are complying with the quarantine.
Tam said at a briefing Thursday that any incoming traveller who is sick will be immediately isolated. People who are seriously ill will be sent to hospital and those with less severe symptoms who can safely go directly home are allowed to do so.
“A quarantine order is put on them; we of course follow them in collaboration with local public health.”
People with symptoms who can’t get home will be housed in a location serving as a federal quarantine, Tam said.