Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Canada-US land border restrictions extended until May 20. Other COVID-19-related measures in place in Canada through at least late May.
This alert affects Canada
This alert began 01 May 2020 21:44 GMT and is scheduled to expire 20 May 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Through at least May 20
- Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions
Authorities in Canada have extended the closure of the country's land border with the US to nonessential travel through May 20 as part of their effort to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The closure, which was originally scheduled to expire on April 20, does not affect trade; basic goods, food, and medicines continue to move between the two countries, and cargo trucks are not affected. 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-related restrictions through at least late May, while some individual provinces have adjusted their own responses to disease activity, in some cases extending local restrictions into mid-May.
On the national level, a ban on entry for nonresident foreign nationals remains in place through at least June 30, with the exception of aircrew members and diplomats, as well as immediate family members of Canadian citizens and US citizens traveling by plane for essential purposes. No person exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms is allowed to board planes flying to Canada, including Canadian citizens. Canadian authorities have also 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 - with the exception of 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.
On the regional level, individual provinces have implemented their own COVID response measures, which vary in severity by location. Provincial-level restrictions currently in effect in Canada include:
- Alberta: Officials ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and banned gatherings of 15 people or more until further notice. Starting May 1, some provincial parks and golf courses will reopen.
- British Columbia: A state of emergency remains in place through at least May 12, and gatherings of 50 people or more are banned until further notice. While authorities have not ordered nonessential businesses to close, many have suspended operations in order to avoid large gatherings of people and maintain social distancing. People entering British Columbia must provide personal information, and plans to self-quarantine for 14 days. If asymptomatic, travelers may only leave their homes to obtain basic goods, or to attend an urgent matter while wearing a protective mask. Officials have also ordered the closure of all provincial parks.
- Manitoba: Officials have ordered all persons entering the province from elsewhere in Canada to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, except those working in essential services. Authorities have also ordered the closure of nonessential businesses and a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people until further notice. Multiple businesses will reopen starting May 4, with limitations, including retail stores, museums, and outdoor dining in restaurants.
- 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. Starting April 24, parks, beaches, and golf courses reopened to the public.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: All persons entering the province from elsewhere in Canada must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, except those working in essential services. Gatherings of five people or more are banned. Most nonessential businesses remain closed. Some outdoor locations, such as parks and golf courses, and professional services such as law firms, will be allowed to reopen starting May 11.
- Northwest Territories: Most travel into the region by air, land, or water has been banned since March 21. Nonessential businesses remain closed.
- 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 their arrival, except those working in essential services. Authorities have also limited all gatherings to five people or fewer, and ordered the closure of nonessential businesses, parks, and beaches.
- 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. Nonessential businesses remain closed.
- Ontario: Officials have extended an emergency declaration in the province that orders the closure of nonessential businesses and bans gatherings; the closure is now in effect through at least May 12. Residents must remain inside their homes and limit the use of public transport, except to perform essential tasks. Starting May 4, some construction projects will be allowed to resume.
- 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. Most nonessential businesses remain closed and gatherings of five or more people are banned. Starting May 1, elective medical services, and construction work may resume. Retail businesses are scheduled to reopen May 22.
- Quebec: Officials have ordered the closure of nonessential businesses until further notice, and have asked residents to remain inside their homes, except to perform essential tasks. Among the businesses that remain open are healthcare facilities, essential government services, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, and those in the telecommunications, security, and transport sectors. Housing construction and mining projects will be allowed starting April 15, with some restrictions.
- Saskatchewan: Officials have banned gatherings of 10 or more people. Starting May 1, elective medical and dental services may resume. Outdoor recreational activities, such as fishing and golfing, will be allowed since May 15.
- Yukon: Officials have ordered all people entering the province to self-quarantine for 14 days, except those working in essential services. Nonessential businesses have been ordered to close and gatherings of 10 or more people are banned.
Residents of Canada are being asked to stay at home as much as possible. Officials could amend the orders on 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.