Thursday, 09 April, 2020

Feds to enforce mandatory quarantines for all travellers returning from abroad

Coronavirus outbreak: Quarantine now mandatory for returning travellers
Deanna Wagner | 26 March, 2020, 17:45

As of early Thursday morning, all travellers returning home to Canada must go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days according to new measures being enacted under the federal Quarantine Act.

The federal government announced tough new measures to make sure Canadians returning home from travel overseas isolate themselves from others.

Hajdu told the Senate that individuals who exhibit symptoms will be banned from taking public transit to their places of isolation - but later said that all returning travellers will be forbidden from taking city buses, trains and subways. She said the new measure will provide "clarity" to those re-entering the country.

The mandatory action under the Quarantine Act took effect Wednesday night and doesn't apply to essential workers like truck drivers and healthcare workers.

Canada is using the Quarantine Act to impose that period of isolation for people returning to the country.

Under the federal law, which was made tougher in 2005 after the SARS crisis, those who disobey quarantine requests face fines of up to Can$1 million (US$700,000) or up to three years in jail. "Anytime you have a public health emergency I don't think the government should be afraid to take mandatory measures and also, unfortunately, we've seen that people just aren't adhering to the optional measures in many cases".

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Hajdu also said officials will be following up with travellers and will conduct random inspections to make sure they're following the rules.

On Sunday, Hajdu said the government was looking at all the measures in their tool box, including criminal penalties. "It will get worse before it gets better".

Worldwide travel, particularly from hard-hit countries such as China, Iran, and South Korea and then later Europe and the US, has been identified as one of the major reasons for the virus' spread in Canada.

"It will be a legal obligation for people entering Canada from outside Canada", Freeland said.

Freeland said those essential workers returning to Canada from the USA will not be subject to the mandatory 14-day isolation.

And Canada's border with the USA, while closed to non-essential travel, is still open to trade and commerce, as well as travel for cross-border workers or students with visas.