Taking temperature: Travel to Canada closed to non-citizens, non-permanent residents

In a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced several sweeping new travel restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus.

Travel to Canada will be closed to anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident, although diplomats, flight crews and US citizens are currently exempt from that restriction. Borders will remain open to commerce and trade.

Beginning March 18, international flights will only be able to land at four airports: Vancouver International, Calgary International, Toronto Pearson and Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau. All travellers returning to Canada will also be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 and those showing symptoms will not be allowed to fly.

According to Trudeau, the government will be providing assistance to Canadian travellers abroad and he urged all Canadians abroad to return home.

“I know that these measures are far-reaching. They are exceptional circumstances calling for exceptional measures,” he said.

In a separate press conference today, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix acknowledged a significant uptick in confirmed cases in BC and announced new measures aimed to slow transmission.

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Over the weekend, 30 new cases of the virus were confirmed and 3 people in the Lynn Valley Care Centre passed away. There are now 103 confirmed cases in BC and there have been 4 deaths.

Henry identified a new outbreak linked to the Pacific Dental Conference 2020, which took place in Vancouver on March 6 and 7. Four cases of the virus in BC and several cases in other provinces have been connected to the conference, prompting Henry to urge anyone who attended the conference to immediately self-isolate for 14 days.

Among the new measures ordered by the province today are the cancellation of events larger than 50 people, a province-wide closure of casinos and the cancellation of elective health care procedures to free up hospital resources for a potential increase in the number of acute cases.

The City of Vancouver also announced today that public areas like public pools, public golf courses and libraries will be closing in an effort to slow transmission.

Dix endorsed the federal government’s decision to restrict travel to Canada, but called for those restrictions to extend to US citizens as well given the widespread transmission of the virus in Washington State. He implored Washington residents not to enter the province and reminded all travellers entering Canada, including visitors, that they must self-isolate for 14 days when they enter the country.

“In this challenging time, this is what we need to do now,” said Henry.

“This is what we need to do in our community to keep people safe, to keep our families safe and to stop this virus from having the impact that we’ve seen in many other countries around the world.”

Stay up to date on UBC information related to COVID-19 by visiting ubyssey.ca/covid-19, the websites of the BCCDC, the Public Health Agency of Canada or the World Health Organization. The province has set up a dedicated COVID-19 phone line at 1-888-COVID19 or text at 1-888-268-4319. For updates on UBC’s response to COVID-19, visit ubc.ca/campus-notifications/