Trudeau outlines new travel restrictions and urges Canadians abroad to come home over coronavirus

I want to remind all Canadians that they
should avoid non-essential travel outside of our country until further
notice. Canadian travellers should return to Canada via commercial means while it
is still possible to do so. Let me be clear, if you’re abroad it’s time for you
to come home. All Canadians, as much as possible, should stay home. By staying
home you can not only protect your health and that of those around you
but ensure that our health care professionals and our health care
systems can focus on those who need their help. This is an adjustment for all
of us. We know that staying home is an important step to protect the community
and each other. We all have to do it. First, we will be denying entry to Canada
to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. This measure will
carve out some designated exceptions including for aircrews, diplomats,
immediate family members of Canadian citizens, and at this time, U.S. citizens
Second, air operators will be formally mandated to prevent all travellers who
prevent symptom, present symptoms of COVID-19 to board a plane. Air operators
will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every air traveler
based on guidance from the public health agency of Canada. This means that anyone
who has symptoms will not be able to come to Canada. I know this news will
spark concern among Canadians traveling abroad. I want to assure you that our
government will not leave you unsupported. To help asymptomatic
Canadians return home, our government will set up a support program for
Canadians who need to get on a plane. Canadian travellers will be able to get
financial assistance to help them with the costs of returning home or
temporarily covering their basic needs while they wait to come back to Canada.
Third, starting Wednesday March 18th only for Canadian airports we’ll be accepting
international flights; Toronto Pearson, Montreal Trudeau, Vancouver International Airport and Calgary International Airport. At this time
domestic flights as well as flights coming from the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean
and Saint Pierre and Miquelon will not be affected. The travel restrictions
announced today will not apply to commerce or trade. We will continue to
ensure the supply of important goods to Canada. We will make ten billion dollars
available in additional support for Canadian businesses. This is a tool that
has worked before in difficult circumstances and we’re confident that it
is going to work again. The economic impact of this pandemic is shifting
hourly and we recognize the stress and anxiety that it is causing. As I’ve said
we are prepared to see Canadians through this time. We will have additional
measures to announce as early as tomorrow to support Canadians,
particularly our most vulnerable. Right now, provinces and territories are facing different realities and risks which
means taking steps that make sense for people in each area. At the same time we
also need to keep building an aligned Canada-wide approach. On Friday I held a
telephone meeting with the Premier’s and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland and
information has been flowing continuously since. We’ve been in
constant communication with the provinces and territories so that there
are no barriers between our jurisdictions during this critical time.
The COVID-19 response fund also includes support for Indigenous communities. On
Friday I spoke with First Nations, Inuit and
Métis Nation leaders to discuss the work we’re doing together on preparedness and mitigation efforts. Minister Miller also provided an update
on our regular coordination with Indigenous partners as well as the
provinces and territories. Minister Vandal has also been connecting with the
territories and is working on exceptional measures to protect the
north. We’re making sure that everyone, no matter where they live, is prepared. This
situation, as everyone knows, has been evolving extremely rapidly and the recommendations of public health and public safety have
been evolving as well. At every step we’ve taken the best advice of our
public health officials and now is the time to take this particular step. It is
a significant step, it is a step that we take in exceptional circumstances, but it
is the right step to be taking today.

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