The federal government plans to extend strict quarantine rules requiring travellers to isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada — rules that were set to expire Tuesday — CBC News has learned.
“It is the intention of the government to continue the 14-day mandatory self-isolation under the federal Quarantine Act,” said a senior government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the new order has not been finalized.
The federal government first introduced strict mandatory quarantine rules for returning Canadians on March 25 under an Order in Council that expires at 11:59 p.m. ET Tuesday.
The official did not say how long the rules would be extended.
Under the original orders, all returning Canadians were told they had to self-isolate for 14 days and that they were forbidden to stop along the way home.
Once isolated, the traveller was required to report the development of any COVID-19 symptoms to public health officials.
At the time, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said no one would be permitted to quarantine anywhere they could come into contact with vulnerable people. A person who normally lives with an elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system, for example, would have to quarantine elsewhere.
In April, those quarantine rules were strengthened. Canadians returning home from abroad who didn’t have credible plans to self-isolate were required to stay at a quarantine facility. Those broadened measures were also set to expire June 30, 2020.
“Examples of things that could be inadequate, for example — if their plan is to go stay in a place where there are many elderly family members at risk of COVID-19, or [if] they don’t have a set destination, if they’ve been outside the country for many years,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time.
“We now have the authority to require them to self-isolate for two weeks in a quarantine location, like a hotel.”
In addition, travellers returning from abroad from April 15 on were required to wear non-medical masks or face coverings before they could proceed to their final destinations. Travellers without masks were provided with them.
“Every person must wear a non-medical mask or face covering that the screening officer or quarantine officer considers appropriate upon entry and while in transit to isolation or quarantine, unless the mask or face covering needs to be removed for security or safety reasons,” the April order stated.
If a traveller develops symptoms during a quarantine period, or is exposed to someone who does, the 14 days of isolation begins again.
If the Canada Border Services Agency suspects that a returning traveller is not going to comply with the rules, it can alert the Public Health Agency of Canada, which can then flag the RCMP’s national operations centre. The RCMP has been playing a coordinating role with local police during the pandemic.
Maximum penalties for failing to comply with the Quarantine Act include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. If someone jeopardizes another’s life while wilfully or recklessly contravening the act, the penalties are even greater: $1 million or three years in prison, or both.
By late May, police officers had made nearly 2,200 personal visits to ensure that Canadians were complying with the self-isolation rule once they’d crossed back into the country.
The federal government’s decision to close its border with the U.S. to all non-essential traffic was again extended last month — this time to at least July 21.
Both countries initially reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross the border for work, and has already extended the deal twice so far.
Canada’s coronavirus decline continues as cases surpass 106,000
Newly-confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada remain in a steady decline as the country’s number of infected surpassed 106,000 Tuesday.
Overall, Canada saw 18 new deaths, bringing the national death toll past 8,700.
Quebec, the province hit hardest by the virus, had an increase of 30 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, increasing the total number of infected just three short of 56,000. Officials wrote in a press release that 13 people died overnight, with the overall number at 5,590. More than 25,000 residents have recovered from the virus, while 650,516 people have been tested so far.
Ontario reported 112 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, for a total of 36,060. The death toll increased from 2,689 to 2,691. Over 1.5 million people in the province have been tested, while 31,603 have recovered.
Saskatchewan officials recorded the province’s 15th COVID-19-related death on Tuesday, and one more newly confirmed case for a total of 806. All but 69 have recovered from the virus, while 70,290 have been tested so far.
As of Tuesday evening, British Columbia’s confirmed cases rose to 2,981 after the province reported 11 new cases on Tuesday. Nine additional cases are “epi-linked,” which is when transmission is made possible after a patient may have been in contact with one or more people who tested positive with the virus.
Those cases have not been confirmed by laboratory tests. Over 203,000 have been tested in B.C. while 2,645 have recovered. There were no new deaths recorded linked to the virus.
New Brunswick has not had a new case of COVID-19 since June 23. All but three residents infected with the virus have recovered while just under 44,900 have been tested.
There were 47 new cases reported in Alberta on Tuesday, increasing the number of infected to 8,436. Two people died from the virus, raising the death toll to 157. Just shy of 494,000 people in Alberta have been tested for COVID-19 while 7,659 have recovered from the virus.
Nova Scotia is on its second consecutive day without any new cases of the new coronavirus, leaving the total at 1,065 and 63 deaths. Officials said 998 residents have recovered and 56,493 have been tested for COVID-19 in the province.
Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador had no new cases or deaths to report.
Manitoban officials reported just over 67,000 residents were tested while 307 have recovered from the virus. Seven have died.
P.E.I. hasn’t reported a new case of COVID-19 since Sunday and no deaths in the province have been linked to the virus. Over 13,200 people have recovered, while 27 have recovered.
In N.L., which has seen 261 cases, said in a statement Tuesday 258 have recovered and 19,184 residents have been tested. There have been three COVID-19-related deaths.
Neither the Northwest Territories or the Yukon have seen a newly confirmed case in months, although Nunavut is currently awaiting confirmation on what could be the territory’s first ever case.
COVID-19 cases have been surging in certain parts of the world, including the United States, which remains the epicentre of the virus. The latest data from Johns Hopkins showed the U.S. accounted for over 2.9 million of the world’s 11.7 million confirmed cases.
More evidence is emerging that COVID-19 can be spread airborne, rather than just from person-to-person or through droplets expelled from the nose or mouth.
A top official with the World Health Organization acknowledged Tuesday “the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19.”
A scientific brief summarizing what is known about COVID-19’s modes of transmission of the virus is expected to be released by the WHO in the coming days.
'It seems crazy': They can't be together in Canada, so they're moving to Serbia – CTV News
She lives on an island where COVID-19 has never been detected. He lives on an island where every case has been resolved.
And because their countries’ border restrictions prevent either of them from travelling to the other’s home, they’re planning to meet up on another continent, in a nation where they don’t speak the language or have any ties and the novel coronavirus is a much more pressing concern.
“It seems crazy in my mind, for him to be leaving an island in the Caribbean … where there’s no COVID. I’m leaving our other island in Eastern Canada where there’s also no COVID, and here we go off, leaving our safe havens … and off we go to Europe for I don’t know how long,” Carly Fleet told CTVNews.ca vin a phone call on Monday from Grand Manan, N.B.
None of New Brunswick’s 165 COVID-19 cases have been traced to Grand Manan, an island in the Bay of Fundy. Grenada’s 23 patients have all recovered. But travel restrictions in both countries mean neither Fleet nor her common-law partner Sean Bodden can visit the other.
They were last together in late February, weeks before the pandemic disrupted global travel and Grenada shut its borders. Like many Caribbean nations, it delayed its reopening plans after Antigua and Barbuda announced dozens of cases within weeks of letting tourists back in. This means that Fleet, a Canadian citizen, cannot enter the country.
Less clear is what would happen if Bodden tried to get into Canada. Those looking to reunite with Canadian spouses or common-law partners have officially been allowed into the country for about a month, but many couples have reported difficulty getting the non-Canadian partner in, even when they have what they believe to be sufficient proof of their relationship.
The Canada Border Services Agency has said that there are no set criteria for a non-Canadian partner to make it across the border. Instead, individual border guards have the authority to decide who gets in “based on the information available to them at time of processing.”
While Bodden has a lease that shows he and Fleet have been together for longer than one year – meeting the government’s required length for a relationship to count as common-law – their situation is complicated by them having spent some time during that period apart, each in their own countries.
That has Fleet concerned that trying to get her partner into Canada is “like playing Russian roulette,” as she put it, because a border guard could decide they have not been together long enough to qualify.
“We’ve heard so many horror stories of married couples and all sorts of different situations where people have tried it. Some get through; some don’t,” Bodden told CTVNews.ca on Monday in a phone call from Grenada.
If Bodden is denied entry into Canada, it’s not at all clear where he could go next, as his citizenship is Trinidadian, not Grenadian – and neither country has reopened its borders.
“If I do get turned away at the border, I may not be able to get back into Grenada and I definitely will not get back into Trinidad,” he said.
Given the inability to travel between their two coronavirus-free communities, Fleet and Bodden have instead booked plane tickets to a distant land that is reporting hundreds of new COVID-19 cases a day.
On Friday, they will have their long-awaited reunion in Paris. They won’t be staying there, as Trinidad and Tobago is not one of the 14 countries whose citizens are allowed to enter the European Union bloc. Instead, they’ll fly on to Istanbul.
They’ve also booked tickets to take them from Turkey to Belgrade, Serbia, but a recent spike in COVID-19 cases there has led to some restrictions being reimposed. Fleet fears that the situation may worsen by the time her flight arrives.
“I don’t know, by the time Friday rolls around, if we’ll still be able to get into the country,” she said.
Bodden and Fleet are hardly the only half-Canadian couple separated by the border measures. Many of them are in touch with each other online, and Fleet says she’s aware of some in situations she considers worse than hers, including parents being separated from newborn children they have yet to meet and women going through high-risk pregnancies without their partners.
She says she initially understood why the rules were in place to protect public health and could live with that, but recent news that the government is guaranteeing access to professional baseball and hockey players has her wondering why that is doable for athletes but not for couples.
“I can’t stay in a country that’s going to give priority to sports over family,” she said.
“We’re certainly not advocating for open borders. We understand that the safety of Canadian citizens has to be first and foremost. We would just like some exemptions to be made for committed couples and families to be able to reunite.”
‘I’LL DO ANYTHING’
Whether they end up in Serbia, Turkey or Croatia – the very few countries that they say meet their criteria of currently accepting Canadians and Trinidadians, not requiring them to quarantine and being reachable from Paris – Fleet and Bodden will have no local ties, no understanding of the language, no accommodations booked and no idea of how long they’ll stay.
“We just thought ‘If we’re going to be together, we need to do something dramatic,’ so we started looking at countries that … let foreign nationals in,” Fleet said.
“We’ve just kind of resigned ourselves to the fact that we don’t know exactly where we’re headed.”
It isn’t their first choice. They say that since it became clear they wouldn’t be able to spend the summer together in New Brunswick, they’ve been making plan after plan after plan, only to readjust as the pandemic endures and travel restrictions are extended.
With new COVID-19 case rates again accelerating in the Balkans, they expect that Friday may not go exactly as they expect either – but they still expect to reunite in Paris, and will figure out the rest from there.
“We’ve made so many plans in the past and had doors shut in our face that we just keep on trying until we do succeed,” Bodden said.
“I’ll do anything to be with her. I don’t care where it is.”
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