Canadian and US authorities have agreed to extend a ban on nonessential ground travel across the two nations' shared borders through at least Nov. 21 due to an increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. The measure, which has been in place since March 21, does not affect trade or essential business travel.
Canadian authorities also maintain a ban on entry for most nonresident foreign nationals until at least Oct. 31. Canadian citizens and residents returning to the country are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. 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.
Canada maintains tightened border restrictions for persons transiting the country on essential travel to reach Alaska from the 48 contiguous US states ("Lower 48"). 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 regulations specify that travelers must take the most direct route through Canada and avoid stopping at leisure sites or national parks. Violators could face fines.
Persons exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms are not 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 are also 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, the 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). All air passengers are required to wear protective face coverings, and all maritime and land passengers are encouraged to do the same.
Individual provinces have implemented their own COVID-19 response measures at the regional level:
- Alberta: Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 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.
- 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. Travel is not permitted north of the 53rd parallel or to remote communities except for residents of the area and persons traveling for essential purposes. 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. In Winnipeg, facemasks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces, indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 5 people and tighter business restrictions are in place.
- 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, as well as enforce 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, Prince Edward Island, and some areas of Quebec. 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 are limited to 50 people; gatherings organized by a recognized business or organization are limited to 100 people. 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. Facemasks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces.
- 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. A 14-day self-isolation period is required for anyone entering the region. Most travel into the region by air, land, or water has been banned since March 21. Most business restrictions have been eased.
- Nova Scotia: Protective face coverings 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 or those traveling from the Northwest Territoriesbeing 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.
- Ontario: Indoor gatherings of up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed, fines may be issued to those found in violation of these gathering restrictions. Restaurants, bars, and other establishments may open for indoor dining with physical distancing restrictions and must limit operating times. Casinos, sport and recreational facilities may also open with social distancing procedures. However, as of Oct. 10, Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel municipality, and as of Oct. 19, York Region, are subject to more stringent restrictions. In these areas, indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. Indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and food courts in malls is prohibited. Indoor gyms, casinos, cinemas and other venues where there is a high risk of close personal contact must close. These measures are in place for at least 28 days. In addition, 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: Protective face coverings 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. Tighter restrictions are in place in some areas of Quebec, including Montreal, residents may not gather with people outside their home and are encouraged not to travel outside their regions of Quebec.
- Saskatchewan: Racetracks, rodeos, live performances in restaurants and markets, banquet and conference facilities, and trade shows are allowed, as are gatherings of up to 30 people. 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 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.