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Hotel quarantine for travellers to begin Feb. 22, Trudeau says – Global News



New restrictions for incoming travellers will come into effect on Feb. 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday — including a fresh hotel quarantine requirement.

“These measures will take effect starting Feb. 22,” Trudeau said, speaking from the front steps of Rideau Cottage.

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Trudeau added that there will be exceptions to these new restrictions, particularly for truckers and health-care workers travelling into Canada.

“We’re not trying to punish people, we’re trying to keep people safe,” he said.

“These border measures will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and new variants.”

In late January, Trudeau announced that travellers arriving in the country by air will have to take a mandatory PCR coronavirus test. While they await the results of that test, they will be forced to quarantine at a hotel for up to three days — on their own dime.

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Some Canadian snowbirds continue to defy travel warnings

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Trudeau had previously said that the cost for this hotel stay is “expected to be more than $2,000.”

“Those with negative test results will then be able to quarantine at home under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement,” Trudeau said at the time.

“Those with positive tests will be immediately required to quarantine in designated government facilities to make sure they’re not carrying variants of potential concern.”

During multiple press conferences on Friday, government ministers and officials explained that travellers arriving in Canada will have to take three separate COVID-19 tests. The first is taken no more than 72 hours before arrival, and then another will be taken upon arrival at the Canadian border or airport.

Travellers will then be provided with an additional testing kit upon arrival, which is to be used 10 days later for a third and final test.t.

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Speaking in a separate press conference on Friday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu provided more details on the mandatory hotel quarantine all air travellers will have to undertake upon their arrival in Canada.

“It is up to the traveller to choose where they wish to stay, and book in advance of departure,” Hajdu said.

She explained the government-approved hotels will be listed on a booking website as of Feb. 18. They are all located near airports in the four cities currently allowed to accept international flights: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.

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“Costs of these hotel stays may vary slightly at each location,” said Hajdu.

“The price will include costs associated with the room, food, cleaning, infection prevention and control measures, and security as well as transportation.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau outlines government’s reasoning behind new PCR test, quarantine requirements for travellers'

Coronavirus: Trudeau outlines government’s reasoning behind new PCR test, quarantine requirements for travellers

Coronavirus: Trudeau outlines government’s reasoning behind new PCR test, quarantine requirements for travellers

If a traveller’s test result comes back negative, they are allowed to leave the quarantine hotel for home, or to catch their connecting flight to their final destination.

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However, this result could take up to three days to come through — a reality that Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said travellers are responsible for understanding.

“If you are travelling, it is your responsibility to understand and to follow all of the rules,” Blair said.

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Travellers to pay ‘more than $2K’ for new mandatory COVID-19 hotel quarantine, Trudeau says

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has said that the federal government is turning to private security firms to help enforce the 14-day mandatory quarantine and conduct in-person compliance visits.

Contracts totalling $2 million have been awarded to G4S Secure Solutions (Canada) Ltd., GardaWorld and Paladin Risk Solutions, according to PHAC. The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, a non-profit that hires Canadian Armed Forces veterans and retired RCMP officers, has also been tapped to help with in-person visits.

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‘Nobody wants a third wave’ of COVID-19 infections, Trudeau says

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The new restrictions come in addition to the mandatory 14-day quarantine people arriving in Canada have been required to undertake for almost a year now, as well as fresh restrictions for travellers arriving at Canada’s land borders.

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As of Monday, travellers arriving at Canada’s land border will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their arrival.

While Canada can’t technically turn away its citizens who don’t arrive equipped with a negative test, Trudeau said on Tuesday that the government has other tools at its disposal to ensure compliance. He said failure to present such a test could result in “severe penalties,” including fines of up to $3,000 per person.

Trudeau also said the government will be implementing new measures to ensure “extensive follow up by Health Canada” to ensure they are getting tested and properly quarantining.

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Speaking during a technical briefing on the new measures, a Canada Border Services Agency official warned travellers to expect longer wait times at the border as a result of the precautions.

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He added that the CBSA “will not compromise” the health and safety of Canadians for the sake of border wait times.

In response to concerns from reporters that the measures could limit those who must travel for medical or emergency reasons, Trudeau said the government is “aware” of the need to be “thoughtful and compassionate about people who are in extremely difficult situations and absolutely need to travel.”

“We will continue to work with people and the ministers involved will continue to watch closely for additions or adjustments that need to be made to these measures,” Trudeau said.”But every step of the way, what we are doing is to keep all Canadians safe.”

The new measures apply to all travellers — even those who have already received the vaccine, officials confirmed.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Health minister details new COVID-19 measures affecting land and air travellers entering Canada'

Coronavirus: Health minister details new COVID-19 measures affecting land and air travellers entering Canada

Coronavirus: Health minister details new COVID-19 measures affecting land and air travellers entering Canada

However, there are groups that will be exempt from the land border measures, including the truck drivers who account for most of the cross-border travel.

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In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the CBSA confirmed that 93 per cent of those crossing at the border are exempt from the restrictions.

“The vast majority of those travelling by land (93%) are exempt from quarantine requirements,” read the email.

Meanwhile, the airline industry welcomed aspects of the air travel measures — but not the entire thing.

“We have been major proponents of a testing regime for aviation and have been pursuing that initiative with the federal government for many months,” said Mike McNaney, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada.

However, he added, “we did not feel that quarantine hotel measures were necessary.”

In conjunction with airlines, the government has also taken steps to make it harder for Canadians to access sunny vacation destinations. In late January, Trudeau said Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat have all agreed to cancel air services to “all Caribbean destinations and Mexico.”

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The cancellations will continue until April 30.

McNaney said he hopes the resumption of service after April 30 can also include a clear plan for scaling airline industry back to its normal levels.

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“We now need to work to have in place for April 30 a true testing and quarantine strategy in place to enable the safe restart and recovery of the sector,” he said.

“We need to get engaged in that process now, with the goal that as of April 30th, you would have a clear initial strategy and approach to how we are going to tie testing to quarantine measures that are adjusted downward, and you would integrate in rapid antigen testing into the testing process.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Trudeau nominates first judge of colour to sit on Supreme Court



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday made history by nominating the first judge of color to sit on the country’s Supreme Court, which has only ever had white justices in its 146-year existence.

Mahmud Jamal, who has been a judge on Ontario‘s court of appeal since 2019, trained as a lawyer and appeared before the Supreme Court in 35 appeals addressing a range of civil, constitutional, criminal and regulatory issues.

“He’ll be a valuable asset to the Supreme Court – and that’s why, today, I’m announcing his historic nomination to our country’s highest court,” Trudeau said on Twitter.

Trudeau has frequently said there is a need to address systemic racism in Canada.

Jamal, born in Nairobi in 1967, emigrated with his family to Britain in 1969 where he said he was “taunted and harassed because of my name, religion, or the color of my skin.”

In 1981 the family moved to Canada, where his “experiences exposed me to some of the challenges and aspirations of immigrants, religious minorities, and racialized persons,” he said in a document submitted to support his candidacy.

Canada is a multicultural country, with more than 22% of the population comprised of minorities and another 5% aboriginal, according to the latest census.

“We know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism every single day,” Trudeau said last year.

Jamal will replace Justice Rosalie Abella, who is due to retire from the nine-person court on July 1.


(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Donors pledge $1.5 billion for Venezuelan migrants, humanitarian crisis



More than 30 countries and two development banks on Thursday pledged more than $1.5 billion in grants and loans to aid Venezuelan migrants fleeing a humanitarian crisis, as well as their host countries and vulnerable people still in the country.

The $954 million in grants announced at a donors’ conference hosted by Canada – which included pledges of $407 million from the United States and C$115 million Canadian dollars ($93.12 million) from Canada – exceeded the $653 million announced at a similar event last year.

But that fell short of the needs of countries hosting the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have left their country since 2015, as the once-prosperous nation’s economy collapsed into a years-long hyperinflationary recession under socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Most have resettled in developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who have themselves seen their budgets stretched thin due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Does this cover all needs? Of course not,” Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters. “We will have to continue to encourage donors to support the response.”

At the conference, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso announced that the country – which hosts some 430,000 Venezuelans – would begin a new process to regularize migrants’ status. That came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the 1.8 million Venezuelans it hosts.

Karina Gould, Canada‘s minister for international development, said the amount pledged showed donors were eager to support such efforts.

“There is that recognition on behalf of the global community that there needs to be support to ensure that that generosity can continue, and can actually deepen, in host countries,” Gould said.

In addition, the World Bank and Inter-American Developmemt Bank pledged $600 million in loans to address the crisis, Gould said.

($1 = 1.2349 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Luc Cohen, Michelle Nichols and David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Aurora Ellis)

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Ecuador to start new ‘normalization process’ for Venezuelan migrants



Ecuador will implement a new “normalization process” for the 430,000 Venezuelan migrants living in the South American country, President Guillermo Lasso said on Thursday, without providing further details of the plan.

Lasso’s announcement, at a conference hosted by Canada intended to raise money to support the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have fled an economic crisis in the South American country, came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the nearly 2 million Venezuelans it hosts.

“I am pleased to announce the beginning of a new regularization process, which in order to be an effective, lasting and permanent policy should be complemented by strategies for economic integration and labor market access,” Lasso said.

Ecuador in late 2019 launched a regularization process for Venezuelans who arrived before July of that year. That included two-year humanitarian visas meant to facilitate access to social services.

Lasso said Ecuador needed outside funding to continue caring for Venezuelan migrants, estimating that more than 100,000 additional migrants were expected to arrive before the end of the year.

“I call on our partners in the international community to be co-responsible and have solidarity with Venezuelan migrants and refugees, and with the countries that receive them,” he said.


(Reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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