Justin Trudeau warns tougher travel restrictions are on the horizon, and Canadians could be stranded

International travellers beware: the federal government is considering a requirement that people returning to Canada quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for 14 days to limit the spread of COVID-19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed to reporters Friday that it’s a possibility being considered along with other travel measures that could be implemented without advance notice.“People should not be planning non-essential travel or vacation travel outside of the country,” Trudeau said. “We could be bringing in new measures that significantly impede your ability to return to Canada at any given moment without warning.” The prime minister said border measures were discussed in a call with the premiers this week, and said an announcement could be coming in the next few days. As more contagious and possibly deadlier variants of COVID-19 emerge around the world, health experts and premiers have been urging Ottawa to get tougher immediately on people who have refused to listen to federal advisories against non-essential travel and who are not following quarantine rules. People returning to Canada are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to departure, and to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, typically in their home — restrictions that the federal government has repeatedly maintained are among the strictest in the world. The government said follow-ups are undertaken to ensure people are complying with the rules, and that less than two per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Canada are travel-related. But experts say these measures must go further and should include quarantine in a designated facility — such as a hotel — and making the traveller pay at least part of the cost, similar to what has been done in Australia. The fact that some of the COVID-19 variants have already been found in Canada has also raised the question of placing restrictions on interprovincial travel.“You have to make the assumption that we’re going to get multiple variants from all over the world,” said physician epidemiologist Dr. Nitin Mohan, a partner at ETIO Public Health Consultants. “We can’t prevent folks from flying out, nor can we prevent them from coming in. So what’s in our control? It’s the ability to enforce isolation upon arrival.”Canada’s national microbiology laboratory has so far confirmed 31 cases of the more contagious COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, and three cases of the variant first found in South Africa.One variant was recently identified in a massive outbreak at a Barrie, Ont. long-term-care home, where nearly all of the residents and dozens of staff have been infected. Trudeau and several of his ministers pleaded with Canadians on Friday to stop any non-essential travel, both out of country and also within Canada. The National Airlines Council of Canada, representing the country’s major airlines, as well as several airline unions urged the government in a statement Friday to consult with them before any new measures are implemented. Australia has been mandating for months that returning international travellers (aside from those coming from New Zealand) quarantine for 14 days in a designated facility and front part of the costs. How much a person pays depends on the state where they’re quarantining; in New South Wales, home of the country’s largest city, Sydney, the price is $3,000 Australian dollars for one adult (about $2,945 in Canadian dollars), $1,000 for each additional adult and $500 for each child. A petition submitted by a number of virologists, epidemiologists, doctors and public health officials is urging the federal government, among other things, to more clearly define what is essential travel, cancel flights to holiday destinations, “strongly consider” designated quarantine facilities for returning travellers, and test all arriving travellers followed by two additional tests during the 14-day quarantine period. (Public health officials have said a person can develop COVID-19 up to 14 days after exposure to the virus.)“I would say that we do have a very loose system,” said Kelley Lee, one of the petition’s signatories and Canada research chair in global health governance at Simon Fraser University. “I know that the prime minister is claiming that we’re very strict on this, but if we compared ourselves to other countries, we’re actually not. “The virus didn’t walk across the country by itself. It was moved by people who are travelling and so really we need to learn from that and try and prevent what we’re seeing playing out in other countries.” Lee said restrictions on interprovincial travel are also now required due to some of the variants being found in Canada. She said she would hope that most Canadians would heed the call to not undertake non-essential travel to other provinces for the time being, but that mandatory quarantine might also be required for those who continue to travel. The Atlantic Provinces have largely been successful i

Justin Trudeau warns tougher travel restrictions are on the horizon, and Canadians could be stranded

International travellers beware: the federal government is considering a requirement that people returning to Canada quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for 14 days to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed to reporters Friday that it’s a possibility being considered along with other travel measures that could be implemented without advance notice.

“People should not be planning non-essential travel or vacation travel outside of the country,” Trudeau said. “We could be bringing in new measures that significantly impede your ability to return to Canada at any given moment without warning.”

The prime minister said border measures were discussed in a call with the premiers this week, and said an announcement could be coming in the next few days.

As more contagious and possibly deadlier variants of COVID-19 emerge around the world, health experts and premiers have been urging Ottawa to get tougher immediately on people who have refused to listen to federal advisories against non-essential travel and who are not following quarantine rules.

People returning to Canada are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to departure, and to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, typically in their home — restrictions that the federal government has repeatedly maintained are among the strictest in the world.

The government said follow-ups are undertaken to ensure people are complying with the rules, and that less than two per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Canada are travel-related.

But experts say these measures must go further and should include quarantine in a designated facility — such as a hotel — and making the traveller pay at least part of the cost, similar to what has been done in Australia.

The fact that some of the COVID-19 variants have already been found in Canada has also raised the question of placing restrictions on interprovincial travel.

“You have to make the assumption that we’re going to get multiple variants from all over the world,” said physician epidemiologist Dr. Nitin Mohan, a partner at ETIO Public Health Consultants.

“We can’t prevent folks from flying out, nor can we prevent them from coming in. So what’s in our control? It’s the ability to enforce isolation upon arrival.”

Canada’s national microbiology laboratory has so far confirmed 31 cases of the more contagious COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, and three cases of the variant first found in South Africa.

One variant was recently identified in a massive outbreak at a Barrie, Ont. long-term-care home, where nearly all of the residents and dozens of staff have been infected.

Trudeau and several of his ministers pleaded with Canadians on Friday to stop any non-essential travel, both out of country and also within Canada.

The National Airlines Council of Canada, representing the country’s major airlines, as well as several airline unions urged the government in a statement Friday to consult with them before any new measures are implemented.

Australia has been mandating for months that returning international travellers (aside from those coming from New Zealand) quarantine for 14 days in a designated facility and front part of the costs.

How much a person pays depends on the state where they’re quarantining; in New South Wales, home of the country’s largest city, Sydney, the price is $3,000 Australian dollars for one adult (about $2,945 in Canadian dollars), $1,000 for each additional adult and $500 for each child.

A petition submitted by a number of virologists, epidemiologists, doctors and public health officials is urging the federal government, among other things, to more clearly define what is essential travel, cancel flights to holiday destinations, “strongly consider” designated quarantine facilities for returning travellers, and test all arriving travellers followed by two additional tests during the 14-day quarantine period.

(Public health officials have said a person can develop COVID-19 up to 14 days after exposure to the virus.)

“I would say that we do have a very loose system,” said Kelley Lee, one of the petition’s signatories and Canada research chair in global health governance at Simon Fraser University.

“I know that the prime minister is claiming that we’re very strict on this, but if we compared ourselves to other countries, we’re actually not.

“The virus didn’t walk across the country by itself. It was moved by people who are travelling and so really we need to learn from that and try and prevent what we’re seeing playing out in other countries.”

Lee said restrictions on interprovincial travel are also now required due to some of the variants being found in Canada. She said she would hope that most Canadians would heed the call to not undertake non-essential travel to other provinces for the time being, but that mandatory quarantine might also be required for those who continue to travel.

The Atlantic Provinces have largely been successful in keeping their COVID-19 case counts low since the start of the pandemic due to restrictions on who can enter and mandatory quarantine requirements, though New Brunswick has recently been grappling with an increasing number of cases.

Experts have said the logistics of imposing similar restrictions could be more difficult in larger and more populated provinces, where case counts are already far higher.

Jacques Gallant is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @JacquesGallant

Source : Toronto Star More