Photo: Canadian Press
The Canadian border is photographed at the Arch of Peace Canada / US crossing in Surrey, British Columbia Friday, March 20, 2020.
More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March, but less than a quarter of them were ordered to quarantine – the rest were considered “essential” travelers and were exempt from this requirement.
Canada began restricting travel abroad in March, first asking Canadians themselves to avoid unnecessary travel outside the country, and then, as of March 16, barring entry to anyone who was not Canadian, permanent resident, or US citizen.
The ban was extended to Americans on March 21. The U.S. border closure has now been extended by a period of 30 days seven times, and while it is currently set to expire on November 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured an Ontario radio station on Friday that he is not keen on reopening the border anytime soon.
“I think we all want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. We also know that in order to get things back to normal, we have to control the spread of COVID-19,” Trudeau said at CKSY in Chatham Kent Friday morning.
At this point, the stakes are still too great for the borders to reopen.
Canadians and permanent residents are allowed to return home, but they must quarantine for 14 days unless they fall into a core category, such as truck drivers, airline or military personnel, or people coming to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Primary travelers are required to wear masks when they cannot physically distance others, and medical personnel are required not to treat people over the age of 65 for 14 days.
Base travelers also made up the bulk of arrivals, according to data provided by Public Health Canada. It said that, as of October 20, 3.5 million travelers were deemed necessary, and 1.1 million others were deemed unnecessary and required to quarantine for two weeks.
PHAC tracks most people who have been asked to quarantine through live or automated calls, and the RCMP or local police have been asked to verify the whereabouts of 247,137 people who have been asked to quarantine.
The agency said that 76 tickets and eight summons were issued to people who were found to have violated the quarantine order.
PHAC statistics differ from data published weekly by the Canada Border Services Agency, which lists total arrivals by road, rail and air, as well as whether air travelers arrived from the United States or another country.
This data shows that travel to this country has decreased by more than 90 percent since the border closed compared to the same period in 2019.
According to the Canada Border Services Agency, nearly half of all travelers who have arrived since March have been truck drivers.
The Canada Border Services Agency also says 63 percent of air travelers have been either Canadian or permanent residents.
Cole Davidson, a spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu, said closing borders is critical to Canada’s strategy on COVID-19.
“This is an important tool in keeping our families and our communities safe, and it works,” he said.
Health Canada data covering 80 percent of confirmed cases of COVID-19 so far shows that about 4.4 percent of them involved recent travelers or people they had been in contact with.
The government began allowing foreign citizens who are direct relatives of a Canadian or permanent resident to come to Canada in June, and recently expanded this to include extended family members, such as grandparents or siblings, as well as international students.
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