Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Canada-US land border restrictions extended until June 22. Other COVID-19-related measures in place in Canada through at least June.

This alert affects Canada

This alert began 21 May 2020 12:53 GMT and is scheduled to expire 02 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Authorities in Canada have extended the closure of the country's land border with the US, except for essential business travel, through June 22, as part of their effort to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The closure, which has been in place since late March, does not affect trade; basic goods, food, and medicines continue to move between the two countries, and cargo trucks are not affected. Pleasure boat travel, including through ferry services, is prohibited. The extension is based on an agreement between the two governments in Ottawa and Washington, DC.

Aside from the land border closure, the federal government in Canada will continue its series of nationwide COVID-19-related restrictions through at least June, while most provinces have adjusted their responses to disease activity.

On the national level, a ban on entry for nonresident foreign nationals remains in place through at least June 30, except for aircrew members and diplomats, as well as immediate family members of Canadian and US citizens traveling by plane for essential purposes. Persons exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to board planes to Canada, including Canadian citizens. Canadian authorities have banned individuals displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19 from domestic air and train travel since March 30 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, such as if the traveler has family members 65 years or older. Authorities had previously banned any ship carrying more than 500 passengers from docking in Canadian ports through at least July 1. All air passengers are required, and all maritime and land passengers are encouraged to wear face masks. Officials have recommended all residents wear non-medical face masks whenever social distancing is not possible.

On the regional level, individual provinces have implemented their COVID-19 response measures, which vary in severity by location. Provincial-level restrictions currently in effect in Canada include:

  • Alberta: Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are now allowed. Some business restrictions have been lifted, including on retail stores, childcare centers, personal care businesses, and restaurants with a maximum capacity of 50 percent; personal care businesses and restaurants will not open in Calgary and Brooks until May 25. Outdoor recreational activities and non-urgent healthcare services are also allowed.
  • British Columbia: Multiple businesses and services have been allowed to reopen since May 19, including non-urgent medical services, retail stores, restaurants, personal care businesses, museums, libraries, office-based businesses, and childcare centers. Outdoor recreational activities and sports are allowed, and parks and beaches are open. People entering British Columbia must provide personal information and plans to self-quarantine for 14 days. Officials urge residents to avoid nonessential travel within the province.
  • Manitoba: Officials have extended the state of emergency through June 17. All persons entering the province from elsewhere in Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, except those working in essential services. Multiple businesses and services, including retail stores, barbershops, and museums, have reopened since May 4, with limitations. Gatherings of up to 25 people are allowed indoor and up to 50 people outdoors, starting May 22.
  • New Brunswick: Nonessential travel into the province is prohibited, and police are authorized to deny entry. Anyone allowed to enter the province will need to self-quarantine for 14 days, except those working in essential services. Parks, beaches, and golf courses reopened to the public since April 24. As of May 8, the province transitioned to Phase 2 of recovery, which falls within the framework of a four-tiered reopening program, allowing certain businesses and public activities to resume, including retail stores, restaurants, libraries, museums, and office-based businesses. Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed outdoors.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: Authorities have banned access to the province to individuals traveling from elsewhere in Canada or internationally, except for residents, asymptomatic workers in specific sectors, and individuals with permits from health authorities. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned. Most nonessential businesses remain closed. Since May 11, law firms and other professional services, and outdoor activities such as golf, hunting, and fishing, have been allowed. Further easing of restrictions is likely in early June.
  • Northwest Territories: Officials have extended the state of emergency through at least May 26. Most travel into the region by air, land, or water has been banned since March 21. Nonessential businesses remain closed; however, the conditional reopening of some businesses and facilities will begin May 15.
  • Nova Scotia: A state of emergency remains in effect. All persons entering the province from elsewhere in Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, except those working in essential services. Authorities maintain restrictions on most businesses. However, multiple outdoor activities, such as fishing, hunting, boating, golf, and tennis, are allowed, and parks, beaches, and trails have reopened. Gatherings of more than five people remain banned, but people from two different households may come together.
  • Nunavut: Officials banned nonresidents from entering the territory starting March 24. Only people working in critical services will be allowed to enter. Residents who do enter must self-isolate for 14 days. Some nonessential businesses remain closed.
  • Ontario: Officials have eased certain restrictions on movement and businesses. Since May 4, construction projects, garden centers, and hardware and safety supply stores opened. Stage 1 of the province's recovery plan started May 19, with the reopening of retail stores with their own street front entrance, as well as car dealerships; non-emergency health procedures are also allowed; maintenance services in households are allowed, as well as professional services, pet grooming businesses, and outdoor activities such as tennis, golf, and horse racing.
  • Prince Edward Island: Officials have ordered all people entering the province from elsewhere in Canada to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, except those working in essential services. Starting May 22, gatherings of up to 10 people outdoors, and five people indoors, will be allowed; retail stores, childcare centers, car washes, barber shops, hairdressers and pet grooming services may reopen; all nonessential manufacturing, maintenance, and health care services may resume. Additional restrictions are likely to be lifted starting June 1.
  • Quebec: Officials maintain restrictions on multiple businesses and activities; however, the easing of some restrictions has allowed certain businesses and activities to resume: since May 4, retail stores outside of the Montreal area; since May 11 non-priority construction, manufacturing and mining projects, and childcare centers outside Montreal; since May 20, outdoor recreational and non-contact sports. Retail stores may reopen in Montreal on May 25. Private healthcare and personal care businesses, such as barbershops, can open throughout the province, except in Montreal, starting June 1. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, from a maximum of three different households, will be allowed provincewide since May 22.
  • Saskatchewan: Officials have banned gatherings of 10 or more people. Phase 2 of the economic recovery plan started May 19. Retail stores, malls, personal care businesses, farmers' markets, parks, campgrounds, drive-in theaters, outdoor recreational activities, and non-urgent medical procedures are now allowed.
  • Yukon: Gatherings of up to 10 people from two different households are allowed. Some businesses have been allowed to reopen since May 15, but restaurants and bars cannot offer dine-in services. Entry into the territory remains mostly restricted.

Residents of Canada are being asked to stay at home as much as possible. Officials could amend the orders at short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The measures taken by authorities in Canada are similar to actions adopted by other governments globally in recent weeks 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.

Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

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.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center