By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, the Canadian government has announced it is closing borders to all except Canadian citizens, and a few others.
From self-isolation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government will be denying entry into Canada to people who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents, with a few exceptions.
Air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens, and, at this point-in-time, Americans will be allowed to continue to cross the border.
Air operators will also be formally mandated to prevent travellers who present symptoms of COVID-19 to board a plane.
“Air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every air traveller based on guidance from the public health agency of Canada,” said Trudeau.
Anyone who shows symptoms will not be granted access to Canada.
“I know this news will spark concern among Canadians travelling abroad. I want to assure you that our government will not leave you unsupported,” said the prime minister.
To help asymptomatic Canadians return home, the government will set up a support program for those who need to board a plane and return home.
“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,” said Trudeau.
However, beginning Wednesday, March 18, only four airports in Canada will remain open to international flights. This includes Toronto Pearson International Airport, Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, and Calgary International Airport.
“I know that these measures are far reaching. They are exceptional circumstances calling for exceptional measures,” said Trudeau.
Trudeau also stated that an additional $10 billion will be made available to help Canadian businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is a tool that has worked before in difficult circumstances, and we’re confident it is going to work again,” said Trudeau.
Trudeau reminded all Canadians to avoid unnecessary travel outside of the country.
Once Canadians who are abroad have made their way home, they must self-isolate for a 14-day period, and then stay home as much as possible, Trudeau added.
“We know that staying home is an important step to protect the community and each other. We all have to do it,” said Trudeau.
He also noted social distancing doesn’t mean people need to stop communicating with one another, as they can speak over the phone, email or through FaceTime.
“The strength of our country is our capacity to come together and care for each other, especially in times of need.”
But, Trudeau wanted to make one thing clear to Canadians who are abroad at the moment.
“If you’re abroad, it’s time for you to come home.”