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UPS executive granted special ministerial exemption from Canada's COVID-19 quarantine – CBC.ca

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The president of U.S. operations for global shipping giant UPS was granted a special ministerial exemption from Canada’s mandatory 14-day COVID-19 quarantine, a CBC News investigation has learned, which he used to lobby Ontario employees to accept the company’s new contract offer.

Nando Cesarone travelled from Atlanta to Toronto for three days of meetings starting Oct. 19.

The company says Cesarone sought and received an authorization for a conditional exemption from mandatory quarantine from Global Affairs Canada.

It’s a decision that the Teamsters, the union representing UPS workers in Canada, finds mystifying.

“We don’t understand why Mr. Cesarone was allowed to come into Canada and why the government waived his 14-day quarantine requirement,” said Christopher Monette, public affairs director for Teamsters Canada.

“We believe the government needs to explain itself on that one. It’s absolutely crucial.”

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has granted 191 such quarantine exemptions on “business mobility” grounds since the pandemic began — 138 of them over the past six weeks, a spokesperson said. Permission to skip the self-isolation requirement is given only under “exceptional circumstances,” the department said, and applicants must “thoroughly justify the immediacy of their purpose of travel to Canada.”

Global Affairs refused to discuss Cesarone’s exemption, citing the federal Privacy Act. 

Cesarone declined interview requests, and UPS did not respond to written questions about the exact reasons for his trip or why the meetings couldn’t be conducted remotely. 

Nando Cesarone, president of U.S. operations for UPS, travelled from Atlanta to Toronto in October and spent three days meeting with Canadian employees. The company says he sought and received an authorization for a conditional exemption from mandatory quarantine from Global Affairs Canada. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

But in a statement to CBC News, the company noted that UPS is an essential service, responsible for delivering needed supplies to Canadian businesses and consumers — including personal protective equipment and “hopefully vaccines soon.” 

Cesarone observed “every regulatory and safety protocol” and followed a detailed COVID-19 “risk mitigation plan,” which included wearing a mask, physical distancing and testing, while in the country, the company said.

However, two employees who met with Cesarone dispute the company’s characterization of the trip and his health precautions, telling CBC News that the meetings “were 100 per cent about labour” and that on at least one occasion, the UPS executive removed his mask so that he could be better heard in a crowded room. The employees asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions.

Visit raises issues of transparency, safety: union

Teamsters Canada says that Cesarone’s visit, which included stops at facilities in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., raises issues of transparency on the part of the company and the federal government, as well as concerns about workplace safety.

“What’s important for us is that everybody is just playing by the same set of pandemic rules,” Monette said. “Just out of respect for the health, the safety of UPS drivers and UPS workers in general — who are, at the end of the day, essential front-line workers.”

Voting on the new labour agreement at UPS began on Oct. 22, and the results are expected to be released on Nov. 2.

Trucks at the Peace Bridge, between Fort Erie, Ont., and Buffalo, N.Y., in September. The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travellers since March 21. But 3.5 million people — essential workers such as truckers and health-care providers — have been excused from quarantine. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/The Associated Press)

Officially, Canada’s border has been closed to non-essential travellers since March 21. But according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 4.6 million people have entered the country over the past seven months. Some 1.1 million, mostly Canadian citizens returning from abroad, were obliged to self-isolate for 14 days. The other 3.5 million — essential workers such as truckers, technicians and health-care providers — were excused from quarantine. 

Over the past month, CBC News has uncovered two instances where senior U.S. executives flew into the country on private jets and were granted exemptions by front-line Canada Border Services Agency officers for non-essential meetings and facility tours — cases that Ottawa now calls errors.

But the growing number of special ministerial exemptions has opposition politicians again wondering why Canada’s supposedly closed border appears so porous at a time when COVID-19 cases are spiking around the globe.

Opposition parties question need for visits

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole raised the issue in question period in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

“Last month we learned the Liberal government allowed two different American billionaires to enter Canada, and they waived the quarantine rules,” O’Toole said, going on to ask if there is “one set of rules for the rich friends of this government and one set of rules for everyone else?”

WATCH | Federal party leaders spar over COVID-19 quarantine exemptions:

During question period in the House of Commons, Opposition leader Erin O’Toole grilled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about quarantine exemptions for business executives as reported by CBC News. 1:24

Jack Harris, the MP for St. John’s East and the NDP’s public safety critic, questions why it was necessary for Cesarone to travel to Canada at all.

“You know, we conduct parliament by Zoom. We do meetings though Zoom…. I don’t see the necessity to have some special exemption like this”, Harris said.

“I can’t go to Ottawa and come back to St. John’s, Newfoundland, without a [provincial] 14-day exemption. We have workers from Newfoundland doing the same thing, coming back to work and having to have a 14-day quarantine here.”

Harris is calling on the Liberal government to share more details about which foreign visitors are being granted exemptions from quarantine and why.

“This idea of behind-closed-doors, non-transparent ministerial exemptions, where you have to dig around to find out why it’s happening, that’s not fair to Canadians,” he said. “And I don’t think Canadians would accept that as fair and reasonable.”  

The federal government has recently begun to relax border restrictions and grant entries on compassionate grounds, allowing more foreign citizens and Canadians who live abroad to reunite with romantic partners or visit sick or dying relatives. 

As of Tuesday, Health Canada had received 2,250 such applications and exempted 1,335 people from all, or part, of the 14-day quarantine for what the government decided were compelling personal reasons. Another 630 people were allowed into the country, but forced to self-isolate for the full two weeks.   

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Alberta and British Columbia set grim new COVID-19 records on Monday, as new measures take effect and authorities carry out enforcement in an effort to curb rising infections.

Alberta reported 1,733 new cases, breaking a record set just two days ago, along with eight new deaths. There were 453 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 96 in ICU beds — both also new records.

“Like all Albertans, I am alarmed by the rising case numbers reported today and over the weekend,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference.

“This is another reminder that COVID-19 has a long incubation period, meaning the actions we take today will not be seen until 10 to 14 days from now.”

On Monday, students in grades 7 to 12 moved to online classes under new COVID-19 measures. They will continue with virtual learning until at least Jan. 11. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, says she continues to be concerned by rising COVID-19 case numbers in the province. Over the past three days, more than 5,000 new cases have been reported in Alberta. (Art Raham/CBC)

Meanwhile, British Columbia reported its highest-ever COVID-19 weekend death toll, with 46 deaths confirmed over the last three days.

The province, which doesn’t provide COVID-19 data on weekends, also recorded 2,364 new cases, including 277 historical cases that were previously missed because of a data reporting error in the Fraser Health region.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the majority of those who died — about 80 per cent — were long-term care residents. Since the start of the pandemic, 441 people in B.C. have died of the virus.

“These people have faces, have names, have stories. This tragedy is all of our tragedy,” Henry said. “If you are thinking it may be OK to bend the rules, please remember this virus takes lives. It is the lives closest to us that are most at risk when we take risks.”

Authorities have been cracking down on those who flout COVID-19 restrictions. On Sunday, a church in Langley was hit with a $2,300 fine for holding an in-person religious service, which is currently prohibited.

And in Vancouver, police say several fines were issued over the weekend after officers were called to break up four separate gatherings — including house parties and a limousine ride — all of which violated provincial COVID-19 protocols.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 378,139, with 66,037 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 12,130.

On Monday, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the Liberal government’s long-awaited economic statement, with Ottawa eyeing up to $100 billion in post-pandemic stimulus spending.

That comes as Canada’s deficit is projected to hit a record high of more than $381 billion for this fiscal year.

Freeland said the government’s immediate priority is to do “whatever it takes” to help Canadians and businesses stay safe and solvent. The risks associated with not providing enough economic support right now outweigh those involved in spending too much, she said.

The stimulus package — valued at $70 billion to $100 billion over roughly three years — is intended to build a greener, more inclusive, more innovative and competitive economy, according to the government. It is intended to launch after a COVID-19 vaccine is distributed and life begins to return to normal.

In Saskatchewan, more than 100 medical students have signed an open letter to the provincial government calling for more action to control the spread of COVID-19.

In the letter, the University of Saskatchewan students thank the government for some of the measures already taken, such as mandatory indoor masking, but say they’re not enough.

Saskatchewan reported 325 new cases and two COVID-19 deaths on Monday. Along with 49 recoveries, there are now 3,879 active cases across the province.

Officials also reported 123 hospitalizations, which is a new record in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba reported 343 new cases on Monday, along with 11 new COVID-19 deaths, including a man in his 30s and a woman in her 40s. Seven of the deaths are connected to outbreaks at long-term care homes.

The province also hit a new record high for COVID-19 hospitalizations with 342 people in hospital, 43 of whom are in intensive care.

At a press briefing on Monday, Manitoba’s chief nursing officer, Lanette Siragusa, noted that the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has more than tripled compared with only a month ago, and the health-care system continues to be under pressure.

Two Manitoba churches held drive-in services over the weekend, in violation of public health orders capping gatherings at five people and ordering religious services to move online.

WATCH | Steinbach, Man., pastor says RCMP is ‘blocking God’ by stopping drive-in church service:

Members of a church in Steinbach, Man., a COVID-19 hotspot, clashed with the RCMP when they tried to enforce public health measures prohibiting all gatherings, including religious services. The pastor said officers were ‘blocking God.’ 2:35

In Ontario, public health measures ramped up in five regions on Monday, with the strictest changes taking effect in Windsor-Essex, which moved to the second-highest “red alert” level on the province’s tiered pandemic response plan.

Ontario on Monday reported 1,746 cases of COVID-19, with 622 new cases in Toronto and 390 in Peel Region, which are both under lockdown measures. Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet that more than 39,400 tests had been completed.

The province reported eight additional deaths, bringing Ontario’s death toll to 3,656. Hospitalizations hit 618, with 168 in intensive care, according to provincial data.

Meanwhile, a window company in York Region, which is currently in the red alert zone, has declared a COVID-19 outbreak after 62 cases were confirmed there.

Health officials say this is the second outbreak at State Windows Corporation’s facility, following an initial outbreak in May that ended up infecting 17 people.

Quebec reported 1,333 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 additional deaths on Monday, bringing the number of deaths in the province to 7,056. Hospitalizations stood at 693 in Quebec, with 94 in intensive care, according to a provincial tally.

The update comes a day after a Montreal long-term care home transferred 20 residents to local hospitals after COVID-19 took hold at the home in the last week, concerning officials and terrifying families.

Paramedics transfer a person from Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal on Sunday as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Quebec long-term care homes were hit hard during the first wave of the pandemic last spring. Many facilities were under-staffed, and in some cases, personnel moved between centres — allowing the virus to spread more easily.

Health officials in New Brunswick reported six new cases on Monday, a day after the province announced 14 new cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case on Monday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 338. Prince Edward Island, which has just four active cases total, had no new cases to report on Monday.

Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases on Monday. The province started using pop-up clinics to test for COVID-19 last week.

WATCH | N.L. premier explains ‘difficult decision’ to leave Atlantic bubble:

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey says he is ‘following the evidence’ with the decision to pull out of the Atlantic bubble for now. 8:30

While the overall numbers are far lower than what health officials are seeing in Central and Western Canada, the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in several Atlantic provinces sparked enough concern that both Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. decided to temporarily withdraw from the bubble that allowed free movement between the provinces.

Newfoundland Premier Andrew Furey told CBC’s Rosemary Barton that his province’s decision to temporarily leave the Atlantic travel bubble was a “tough decision — but it was one that we based on evidence.” 

Not long after the changes announced by Newfoundland and P.E.I., New Brunswick added some border restrictions of its own, saying that people travelling into the province — including people who live in other Atlantic provinces — would be required to self-isolate for 14 days unless exempt. 

“Registration for travel into New Brunswick, including New Brunswickers returning home from travel, is also now mandatory,” the province said in a statement last week.

Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the number of active cases in the territory to 108.

The Northwest Territories reported no new cases on Monday.

Yukon reported one new COVID-19 case on Monday, after reporting one new case on Sunday. The territory has now reported 47 cases since the pandemic began.

Have questions about COVID-19 in Canada? Join Adrienne Arsenault and Andrew Chang of The National for a virtual town hall.


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | Consider COVID-19 risks of holiday celebrations, urges WHO chief:

‘We all need to consider whose life we might be gambling with’ during holiday celebrations because of the coronavirus, says World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 2:19

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 6:15 p.m. ET

As of Monday evening, more than 63.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 40.3 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.4 million.

Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths.

Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Vietnam confirmed on Monday its first locally transmitted case of the coronavirus in nearly three months, after the infection of a man related to a flight attendant who had tested positive after returning from Japan two weeks ago.

The country’s health minister ordered provinces and state agencies to tighten screening and controls and contact tracing efforts were launched after the 32-year-old man was confirmed as the first reported domestic infection in 89 days.

With its strict quarantine and tracking measures, Vietnam has managed to quickly contain its coronavirus outbreaks, allowing it to resume its economic activities earlier than much of Asia.

Vietnam crushed its first wave of coronavirus infections in April and went nearly 100 days without local transmission until the virus re-emerged and was quickly contained in the central city of Danang in July.

Indonesia reported a record daily rise in coronavirus infections on Sunday with 6,267 cases, bringing the total to 534,266, data from the country’s COVID-19 task force showed.

A medical worker stands inside a swab chamber as he prepares to collect swab samples to be tested for COVID-19 in Jakarta, Indonesia, last week. (Willy Kurniawan/Reuters)

Cambodia’s Education Ministry has ordered all state schools to close until the start of the next school year in January after a rare local outbreak of the coronavirus.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron issued a statement late Sunday saying that all schools will be shut to prevent students from being infected. Public schools will remain closed until Jan. 11, the start of the next school year, while private schools must close for two weeks, he said. Students in private schools will be permitted to study online.

Cambodia has reported only 323 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, most of them acquired abroad, with no confirmed deaths.

In the Americas, U.S. health authorities will hold an emergency meeting this week to recommend that a coronavirus vaccine awaiting approval be given first to health-care professionals and people in long-term care facilities.

Counties across California, meanwhile, are imposing stricter COVID-19 restrictions on Monday as cases surge statewide and Thanksgiving travellers return home.

Health officials are preparing for a wave of cases in the next two or three weeks that could be tied to holiday gatherings.

Los Angeles County, for example, will impose a lockdown calling for its 10 million residents to stay home beginning Monday.

WATCH | How testing helped Cornell University become a model of COVID-19 prevention:

At the start of the school year, Cornell University implemented a strategy of regular testing and robust contact tracing on campus. The plan was expensive, but it’s prevented any major COVID-19 outbreaks at the New York institution. 8:19

The state reported 7,415 coronavirus hospitalizations on Sunday, citing the most recently available data from the previous day. More than 1,700 of those patients were in intensive care units. California’s previous record was 7,170 in July.

As of Sunday, California has had nearly 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 19,000 deaths since the pandemic began. The state reported around 15,600 new cases on Saturday.

Mexico reported 6,388 new confirmed coronavirus infections and 196 additional deaths on Sunday, health ministry data showed.

In Africa, mass vaccination against COVID-19 is unlikely to start in Africa until midway through next year and keeping vaccines cold could be a big challenge, the continent’s disease control group said.

Kenya’s central bank has cut its forecast for 2020 economic growth by more than half, joining the Treasury in realizing that the coronavirus had inflicted more damage to the economy than previously thought.

In Europe, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic of Croatia has tested positive for the coronavirus, following his wife’s positive test over the weekend. A government spokesperson said Plenkovic is feeling fine and will continue to perform his duties from his home.

The government on Monday tightened travel restrictions, requesting a negative test for most people seeking to enter the country. Croatia, which has faced weeks of soaring COVID-19 infections, on Monday reported a record single-day death toll of 74 fatalities and 1,830 new infections.

Belgium will let shops reopen from Tuesday but keep other curbs over the festive period, while Italy will ease anti-COVID-19 restrictions in five regions from Sunday. Ireland will allow shops, restaurants, gyms and pubs serving food to reopen next week and permit travel between counties from Dec. 18.

A pharmacy worker wearing protective gear stands outside a tent set up for rapid COVID-19 tests in Rome’s Trastevere neighbourhood last week. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press)

Italy reported 541 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, against 686 the day before, and 20,648 new infections, down from 26,323 on Saturday, the Health Ministry said. 

While Italy’s daily death tolls have been among the highest in Europe over recent days, the rise in hospital admissions and intensive care occupancy is slowing, suggesting the latest wave of infections is receding.

Meanwhile, Greek officials say the number of new infections is waning in most parts of the country, which has been in lockdown for three weeks. The lockdown initially had been set to end Monday but has been extended for another week.

Greece on Monday recorded 1,044 new confirmed infections — down from a record high of more than 3,000 earlier in November — and 85 new deaths.

The hardest-hit country in the Middle East, Iran, had more than 948,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 47,000 recorded deaths.

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3 Nova Scotians appointed to the Order of Canada – CBC.ca

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Three Nova Scotians have been appointed to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours.

They are among the 114 appointees announced Friday.

The list includes eight companions, 21 officers, one honorary member and 84 members. The full list can be found here.

“Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation,” said a statement on the office of the Governor General’s website.

Appointments are made by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada. More than 7,000 Canadians have received the honour since its inception.

Jeff Dahn of Halifax, who has led groundbreaking research on lithium-ion batteries, was appointed as an officer.

Dahn is considered a pioneer of lithium-ion battery research. (Jill English/CBC)

In 2017, he won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for his work in making batteries increasingly efficient. He also won a Governor General’s Award for Innovation in 2016.

Dahn works out of a lab at Dalhousie University. He also began a five-year research partnership with Tesla In 2016.

In the statement, the Governor General’s office also commended him for “his mentorship and adroit bridging of academia and industry.”

Dahn could not be reached for comment Sunday.

‘It’s humbling’

Meanwhile, Dr. Ken Wilson and John Eyking were appointed as members.

Wilson, a plastic surgeon in the Halifax area, was appointed “for his nationally recognized expertise in reconstructive and plastic surgery, and for his volunteer work on international medical missions.”

“It’s humbling, but a very nice addition to a great career,” Wilson said of the honour.

In the mid-80s, Wilson became the first person east of Montreal to dedicate himself to doing plastic surgery for children.

“It was a very satisfying thing for me to be able to look after a lot of the children who have either had to travel, or that hadn’t had, sometimes, the attention they would’ve had otherwise,” he said.

Wilson has spent more than 30 years doing plastic and reconstructive surgery for children. (Submitted by Ken Wilson)

In the mid-90s, Wilson began working with Operation Smile, an organization that provides surgeries and dental care to children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. He travelled a couple times a year to do surgery in underdeveloped countries, and he estimates he went on about 46 missions.

In the late 1990s, Wilson became the chief of surgery at the IWK children’s hospital in Halifax, a position he held for more than a decade.

He stopped practising five years ago, but Wilson now works as a medical consultant for Doctors Nova Scotia and is chair of the board for Operation Smile Canada.

“It was a wonderful career,” said Wilson. “I gotta say, I’ve been very lucky over the years to have the opportunity to do what I did.”

While there is no ceremony this year due to COVID-19, Wilson was mailed his snowflake insignia, as well as a “lovely book” detailing the history of the Order of Canada and the many recipients over the years.

‘All in a day’s work’

Eyking, a farmer and entrepreneur who founded Eyking Farms, was recognized for his “personal and professional dedication to the Cape Breton community, particularly within the agriculture industry.”

Eyking, of Millville, N.S., immigrated to Canada in 1963 from the Netherlands. He started a farm, which later grew into a family operation run by him, his wife and their 10 children.

He is also an inductee of the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Reached by phone Sunday, Eyking, 89, was modest about his appointment. He credited his farm’s accomplishments to the work of his large family.

“For me, it was all in a day’s work and I enjoyed it,” he said.

He, too, received a parcel from the Order of Canada, and said he enjoyed the book.

“There’s quite a few Cape Bretoners in there,” he said.

The recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.

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Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca

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The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.

Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.

By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.

Both have been regularly extended since March.

“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.

“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”

International travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Exemption for amateur sports events

The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.

Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.

More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.

Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.

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