Transport Canada says it is further easing travel restrictions in the country and will allow more airports to accept international passenger flights at the end of the month.
In a press release issued Tuesday, Transport Canada said the government’s “strict vaccine travel requirements” that will be fully phased in by Nov. 30, and the issuing of a pan-Canadian proof of vaccination passport, have created “opportunities for safe travel for vaccinated Canadians.”
The department noted that the next step in easing travel restrictions is to expand the number of Canadian airports that can accept international passengers.
As of Nov. 30, international flights carrying passengers will be allowed to land at these Canadian airports:
- St. John’s International
- John C. Munro Hamilton International
- Region of Waterloo International
- Regina International
- Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International
- Kelowna International
- Abbotsford International
- Victoria International
“These airports, in cooperation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Transport Canada, are working to implement the measures necessary to start safely welcoming international passengers as of November 30,” Transport Canada said in a statement.
These airports are in addition to the 10 Canadian airports currently accepting international flights in Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said during a press briefing on Tuesday announcing the news that Canada’s increased vaccination levels have allowed Ottawa to “safely reopen” these airports.
“The global pandemic has significantly impacted our daily lives. It has limited our ability to travel for business, and kept us from travelling to visit our family and friends. But we know that vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Vaccinations are helping to keep us safe while we cautiously return to doing the things we love,” Alghabra said.
Speaking at the Waterloo International Airport in Breslau, Ont., Alghabra said these airports were selected after considering passenger demand, geography and the preparedness of each airport to resume receiving international flights under current public health conditions.
“Opening these airports to international travel is another step forward in rebuilding and reopening our travel system,” he said. “This move will help ensure travellers are able to access more regional airports for their international travels this winter, while continuing to support our government’s measured approach to reopening our borders.”
Alghabra added that further increasing Canada’s vaccination levels will be “crucial” in preventing a return to previous travel restrictions.
“We don’t want to ever go back to those days,” he said.
The federal government first reduced the number of airports permitted to accept international passenger flights in February as part of a move to discourage non-essential trips, slow the spread of COVID-19 variants, and concentrate the locations of quarantine hotels.
Transport Canada noted that additional airports will be considered “as conditions dictate, based on demand, operational capacity, the epidemiological situation in Canada, and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada.”
The department warned that border restrictions and public health measures remain subject to change depending on the COVID-19 situation in Canada.
“The Government of Canada continues to work closely with airports and aviation operators to ensure appropriate procedures are put in place to protect travellers and workers,” Transport Canada said in the statement.
Canadian travellers need vaccine documentation for almost every mode of transportation. As of Oct. 30, employees and passengers in the federally regulated air, rail and marine transportation sectors have to be fully vaccinated. There is a short grace period in which proof of a negative COVID-19 test will be acceptable to board, though by Nov. 30 that option will no longer be available.
The federal government announced Oct. 21 that it was lifting the global advisory asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country, but is continuing to advise against travel on cruise ships.
The government is now urging Canadians to be fully vaccinated before a trip, to pay attention to COVID-19 activity at their destination, to follow local public health measures and wear a face mask while travelling.
Canada opened its borders last month to non-essential international travellers who have received both doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine. Fully vaccinated travellers from the United States were allowed to cross the border into Canada in August.
The U.S. government recently announced that its land borders will reopen to non-essential Canadian travellers on Nov. 8.
With files from CTVNews.ca’s Sonja Puzic and Rachel Aiello
This story has been updated to correct the number of Canadian airports currently accepting international flights.
First cases of COVID-19 discovered in Canadian wildlife – CTV News
The first cases of COVID-19 in Canadian wildlife have been discovered in three white-tailed deer, a press release from Environment and Climate Change Canada reports.
The National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease confirmed the detections on Nov. 29 but the deer were sampled between Nov. 6 to 8 in the Estrie region of Quebec. The deer showed no evidence of clinical signs of disease and were “all apparently healthy.”
“As this is the first detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife in Canada, information on the impacts and spread of the virus in wild deer populations is currently limited,” the press release states.
“The finding emphasizes the importance of ongoing surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife to increase our understanding about SARS-CoV-2 on the human-animal interface.”
The World Organisation for Animal Health was notified about the discovery on Dec. 1.
The department is urging added precaution – like wearing a well-fitted mask – when exposed to “respiratory tissues and fluids from deer.”
The virus has been found in multiple animal species globally including farmed mink, cats, dogs, ferrets, and zoo animals such as tigers, lions, gorillas, cougars, otters and others.
“Recent reports in the United States have revealed evidence of spillover of SARS-CoV-2 from humans to wild white-tailed deer, with subsequent spread of the virus among deer. There has been no known transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from deer to humans at this time,” the release reads.
U.N. seeks record $41 billion for aid to hotspots led by Afghanistan, Ethiopia
The United Nations appealed on Thursday for a record $41 billion to provide life-saving assistance next year to 183 million people worldwide caught up in conflict and poverty, led by a tripling of its programme in Afghanistan.
Famine remains a “terrifying prospect” for 45 million people living in 43 countries, as extreme weather caused by climate change shrinks food supplies, the U.N. said in the annual appeal, which reflected a 17% rise in annual funding needs.
“The drivers of needs are ones which are familiar to all of us. Tragically, it includes protracted conflicts, political instability, failing economies … the climate crisis, not a new crisis, but one which urges more attention and of course the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths told reporters.
In a report to donors, the world body said: “Without sustained and immediate action, 2022 could be catastrophic.”
Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and Sudan are the five major crises requiring the most funding, topped by $4.5 billion sought for Taliban-ruled Afghanistan where “needs are skyrocketing”, it said.
In Afghanistan, more than 24 million people require life-saving assistance, a dramatic increase driven by political tumult, repeated economic shocks, and severe food insecurity caused by the worst drought in 27 years.
“We are in the business in the U.N. of trying to urgently establish with support from the World Bank as well as the U.N. system, a currency swap initiative which will allow liquidity to go into the economy,” Griffiths said.
“The absence of cash in Afghanistan is a major impediment to any delivery of services,” he said. “I am hoping that we get it up and running before the end of this month.”
In Ethiopia, where a year-old conflict between government and Tigrayan forces has spread into the Amhara and Afar regions, thousands have been displaced, while fighting, drought and locusts push more to the brink, the U.N. said.
Nearly 26 million Ethiopians require aid, including more than 9 million who depend on food rations, including 5 million in Tigray, amid rising malnutrition rates, it said.
“Ethiopia is the most alarming probably almost certainly in terms of immediate emergency need,” Griffiths said, adding that 400,000 people had been deemed at risk of famine already in May.
Noting that heavy fighting continued, with government forces battling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front forces who have moved closer to the capital Addis Ababa, he added: “But capacity to respond to an imploded Ethiopia is almost impossible to imagine.”
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; editing by Richard Pullin)
Doug Ford applauds new COVID-19 travel restrictions, says more discussions with feds to be held – Globalnews.ca
Ontario Premier Doug Ford thanked the federal government for implementing new travel restrictions in a bid to stop the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant and said more discussions will be held about possibly expanding new testing rules to travellers from the United States.
Ford made the remarks at an unrelated press conference in Mississauga Wednesday morning.
Several Omicron variant cases have already been confirmed in Ontario, and Ford said while it is a “cause for concern” it is “not cause for panic.”
“Every day we hold off more cases entering our country, the more time we have to learn and prepare,” Ford said.
“So the best thing we can do right now is fortify our borders. Our best defence is keeping the variant out of our country. We welcome the actions from the federal government and I want to thank the feds for taking action to date.
“We implored them last week to act quickly and be decisive on the borders and they did.”
In a statement last Friday, Ford called on the federal government to enact travel bans on “countries of concern” and the feds followed through just hours later.
On Tuesday, they expanded that ban to three additional countries.
Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said foreign nationals from Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt who have been to those countries over the past two weeks will not be able to enter Canada. This added to the seven other African countries barred by Canada on Friday: South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.
Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria added to Canada‘s travel ban amid more restrictions
Canadians and permanent residents, as well as all those who have the right to return to Canada, who have transited through these countries over the past two weeks, will have to quarantine, be tested at the airport, and await their test results before exiting quarantine, Duclos said.
It was also announced that all air travellers entering Canada — excluding those coming from the United States — would have to get tested when they arrive and isolate until they receive a negative result. That measure applies to all travellers, regardless of vaccination status.
Duclos said Wednesday that it will take time to implement the new measure.
In his statement last week, Ford also called for point-of-arrival testing to be put in place.
He also said he advised the province’s chief medical officer and Public Health Ontario to “immediately implement expanded surveillance” and update planning to “ensure we are ready for any outcome.”
The Omicron variant has now been detected in many countries around the world, including, as of Wednesday, the United States.
Ford was asked if he would support expanding the new testing rules to those arriving from the States.
“I would always support anything that can be cautious to prevent this variant coming into our country. So, again we’ll have a discussion with the federal government. That’s their jurisdiction, it’s not ours,” Ford said.
“They work collaboratively with all the provinces and territories and I’m always for going the cautious route as I think people have seen over the last 20 months.”
The premier added that “it doesn’t take much to get a test at the airport.”
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Wednesday that it’s too early to say whether Canada’s latest requirement to test arriving air travellers will be extended to include those coming from the United States.
“We need to be prepared and ready if we need to adjust that decision to include travellers from the U.S. We haven’t made that decision yet,” he said.
When asked what provincial measures are being considered in response to the Omicron variant, Ford said they will make sure there is expanded testing capacity and contact tracing.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said there is still much that isn’t known about the variant, including how effective vaccines are against it.
She said the province is “continuing with all of our precautions” and said it’s important to keep border restrictions in place until more is known about the variant.
Elliott also said more information will be released in the coming days “with respect to age categories” on booster shots.
— With files from Saba Aziz and The Canadian Press
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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