Feds introduce mandatory self-isolate for returning travellers

Nellie Chapman
March 26, 2020

"Travellers returning to Canada will be subject to a mandatory 14-day self-isolation under the Quarantine Act".

The measures also make it tougher for those facing quarantine to get home, to keep the greater public safer from potential exposure to COVID-19.

The federal government touted the mandatory self-isolation measure as a step in the fight to protect the health and safety of all Canadians.

She also said that officials will gather traveller's contact information and then follow up with them directly to make sure they are staying in their homes even if they don't have symptoms. "We have decided that now is the time to make that measure mandatory".

"This new measure will provide the clarity for those re-entering the country about the essential need to self-isolate", she told the Senate, where she was discussing the Liberal government's emergency legislation to free up billions of dollars to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis. There is no immediate word on how the government will be enforcing the measure.

On Friday, Quebec City police arrested a woman who tested positive for the coronavirus after she went out for a walk, violating a quarantine order.

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Freeland said the issue had been debated "at length" during the coronavirus cabinet committee meeting on Monday night.

The federal government said maximum penalities include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.

Truck drivers and health care workers crossing the border are exempted from the quarantine act and Canada and the United States already closed their common border for all non-essential travel.

Worldwide travel - initially from China, then Iran and South Korea, then Europe and now the United States - has continued to be a significant vector for the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"It will be a legal obligation for people entering Canada from outside Canada", Freeland said.

And Canada's border with the US, while closed to non-essential travel, is still open to trade and commerce, as well as travel for cross-border workers or students with visas.

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