Canada Set to Ban Travelers in Bid to Keep Pandemic at Bay

(CN) – Canada will ban entry of travelers who are not citizens or permanent residents, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday, but he said the ban won’t apply to Americans “for now.”

Trudeau called on Canadians traveling abroad to return home, as long as they don’t have symptoms of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19. No one with symptoms will be permitted to enter the country. Canadians arriving home will be required to self-isolate for two weeks. For those who might have to remain abroad, Trudeau said the government would offer financial assistance.

There will be exceptions for diplomats, airline crews and the spouses and children of Canadian citizens, Trudeau said. The ban also will not apply to goods, in an effort to preserve the Canadian supply chain.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau arrive at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2019. Trudeau is quarantining himself at home after his wife exhibited flu-like symptoms last week. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP)

“For the moment,” Trudeau said, flights from the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean won’t be affected.

Beginning Wednesday, all international flights will be routed through just four Canadian cities – Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary – where screening will be beefed up. Officials in those airports will run health assessments on every passenger.

Canada had 324 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday.

Speaking from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, where he has been in isolation since his wife Sophie Gregoire tested positive for coronavirus one week ago, Trudeau said there was still time to slow the spread of the illness.

“It’s time to take every precaution to keep people safe,” Trudeau said.

The Trump administration ordered a similar travel ban on non-citizens entering the United States from the European Union last week, and over the weekend expanded the ban to include travelers from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said Monday she would urge member states to impose a 30-day ban on travel from outside the EU except for essential business.

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” von der Leyen said. “We need to do more to reduce the huge pressure on our health care system.”

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