Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Officials in Canada tighten border restrictions between Alaska, US and Canada, July 31. Other travel and business restrictions in place.

  • Alert Begins: 31 Jul 2020 11:42 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 21 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions

Officials in Canada have tightened border restrictions for persons transiting Canada to reach Alaska from the 48 contiguous US states on essential travel. The measure was taken in response to an increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Starting July 31, foreign nationals traveling by land to Alaska from the US Lower 48 may only enter Canada through one of five border crossings: Abbotsford-Huntington, Kingsgate, or Osoyoos in British Columbia; North Portal, Saskatchewan; or Coutts, Alberta. Travelers who attempt to enter Canada through any other border crossing will be denied entry and rerouted to an approved crossing. Persons entering Canada from Alaska may use any border crossing. The new regulations specify that the traveler must take the most direct route through Canada and avoid stopping at leisure sites or national parks. Violators could face fines. Nonessential ground travel through the US-Canada border remains suspended through at least Aug. 21.

Additionally, Canadian authorities are maintaining a ban on entry for most nonresident foreign nationals until Aug. 31. However, immediate family members of Canadian citizens or residents can enter, provided they plan to stay for at least 15 days and are able to quarantine for the first 14 days of their stay. Other nonresident foreign nationals allowed to enter must be traveling for essential reasons, and must travel either from the US or be exempt from the restrictions by virtue of being temporary workers, international students, diplomats, aircrew members, or French citizens who live in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.

Persons exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to board planes to Canada, including Canadian citizens. Canadian authorities have also banned individuals displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19 from domestic air and train travel until further notice. Travelers who are denied boarding will be barred from air or train travel for at least 14 days unless they can produce a medical certificate confirming that any symptoms are unrelated to COVID-19.

All international flights to Canada - except for trade and business flights, as well as flights from the US, Mexico, Caribbean, and St. Pierre and Miquelon - are landing only at Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in Toronto, Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Montreal Trudeau Airport (YUL), and Calgary International Airport (YYC). Canadian citizens and residents returning from abroad must self-quarantine for 14 days. Authorities may order those entering the country to isolate at a hotel if they believe the traveler may put others at risk. All air passengers are required to wear protective face coverings, and all maritime and land passengers are encouraged to do the same. Officials have recommended all residents wear some form of protective face covering whenever social distancing is not possible.

Individual provinces have implemented their own COVID-19 response measures at the regional level:


  • Alberta: Outdoor gatherings of up to 200 people are allowed, while private and indoor gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed. Most business restrictions have been eased, and restaurants and casinos can operate without capacity limits, as long as they ensure social distancing measures.


  • British Columbia: Most businesses and services have been allowed to reopen, including retail stores, restaurants, personal care businesses, museums, libraries, office-based businesses, movie theaters, spas, and hotels. Outdoor recreational activities and sports are allowed, and parks and beaches are open.


  • Manitoba: Persons entering the province from elsewhere in Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, except those working in essential services, residents who routinely move in and out of the province, or those traveling from Western Canada or Northwestern Ontario. A number of businesses and services, including retail stores, barbershops, museums, libraries, dine-in restaurants, bars, gyms, and pools, have reopened with certain limitations. Gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed indoors and up to 100 people outdoors.


  • New Brunswick: Any business that admits patrons where seating is offered for eating, drinking, entertainment, or socialization must maintain a list of names and contact info of those who attend and make the list available to Public Health Inspectors. Travelers entering from other regions of Canada must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, except those from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Most businesses have reopened, as have outdoor recreational facilities, such as parks, beaches, and golf courses. Gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted. All residents must wear protective coverings in indoor public settings.


  • Newfoundland and Labrador: Travelers entering from other regions of Canada must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, except those from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, except for weddings and funerals where 20 people may gather. Retail stores, restaurants, outdoor pools, personal care businesses, movie theaters, gyms, and bars can open with capacity limitations. Outdoor recreational activities, sports, and summer camps are permitted to resume.


  • Northwest Territories: Authorities are maintaining checkpoints at major inter-provincial entry points. Only residents of the Northwest Territories, essential and approved workers, those moving to, studying in, or transiting the region with an approved self-isolation plan will be allowed entry. Most travel into the region by air, land, or water has been banned since March 21. Most business restrictions have been eased.


  • Nova Scotia: As of July 31, face masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces. Travelers entering from other regions of Canada must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, except those from Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. Organized events can allow up to 200 people indoors and 250 people outdoors. Social gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed. Bars and restaurants, swimming pools, campgrounds, personal care businesses, and childcare centers can open, while maintaining social distancing measures. Public beaches, parks, and other outdoor recreational areas are open.


  • Nunavut: Nonresidents remain prohibited from entering the territory, with only persons working in critical services being allowed to enter. Returning residents must self-isolate for 14 days. Retail stores, gyms, pools, restaurants and bars, cinemas, and museums have been allowed to open. Indoor gatherings of up to 10 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed.


  • Ontario: From July 31, Toronto will enter Stage 3 of the province's economic recovery plan, joining most regions in the province. Under Stage 3 indoor gatherings of up to 50 people, and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed. Restaurants, bars, and other establishments may open for indoor dining with physical distancing restrictions. Casinos, sport and recreational facilities may also open with social distancing procedures. Windsor-Essex Public Health Region remains on Stage 2 of the economic recovery plan, under which gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed, and businesses such as personal care businesses, malls, and outdoor recreational facilities can open. Restaurants may offer outdoor dining. The use of protective face coverings is mandatory on public transport provincewide.


  • Prince Edward Island: Events of up to 50 people are allowed, and social gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors are also allowed. Most businesses can reopen, following social distancing measures. Travelers entering from other regions of Canada must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, except those from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.


  • Quebec: Masks are mandatory in all public spaces for people over the age of 12. All businesses are allowed to operate following certain guidelines, except festivals, major events, and vacation camps. There are no restrictions for travelers entering the province, and tourism activities have resumed. Gatherings at homes must be limited to 10 people; outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed.


  • Saskatchewan: Racetracks, rodeos, live performances in restaurants and markets, banquet and conference facilities, and trade shoes can resume. Gatherings of up to 30 people are allowed. Retail stores, childcare centers, gyms, malls, personal care businesses, farmers' markets, parks, campgrounds, casinos, and drive-in theaters can open. Restaurants may provide indoor dining at 50-percent capacity.


  • Yukon: Travelers from British Columbia, Northwest Territory, and Nunavut can enter without restrictions, while travelers from the rest of Canada are allowed, but must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Whitehorse. Most businesses have been allowed to reopen, and gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed.


Residents of Canada are being asked to stay at home as much as possible. Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by authorities in Canada are similar to actions adopted by other governments globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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