Canadians should cancel any non-essential travel plans they might have, whether it’s abroad or even between provinces, as new restrictions are on the way, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
“The bad choices of a few will never be allowed to put everyone else in danger,” he said at a news conference outside his Rideau Cottage home in Ottawa.
Trudeau said while the number of new cases linked to travel remains low, a single case imported from abroad is a case too many and the federal government is actively looking at ways to tighten the border.
Trudeau said the government wants to ensure any measures don’t cut off the flow of trade, noting that commercial flights coming into Canada from around the world might have non-essential travellers on board, but essential cargo in the belly of the plane.
Canada has had a ban on non-essential travel into the country by anyone who isn’t a citizen or permanent resident since last March but it can’t as easily bar the flow of Canadians in and out of the country.
Trudeau pointed out that most who return from outside the country must quarantine for two weeks, and 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 shows that since then, however, dozens of flights have landed in Canada where passengers were later found to have COVID-19.
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 is reported to have 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.