Canadian officials said Friday they are working with the Biden government to close what they call the « travel gap » and to achieve more symmetry with COVID-19 security protocols between the two countries.
« Frankly, there is a loophole because the Americans had not previously put restrictions on international flights to the US, » Canada’s Secretary of Public Security Bill Blair said at a news conference on Friday.
« This affects us because this restriction is on our land border, but not on air travel, » he added.
While the Canada-US border remains closed and all non-essential travel is banned until at least February 21, hundreds of thousands of travelers have made discretionary travel between the two countries in the ten months since the border restrictions were introduced, as has not been the case with air travel were subject to the same restrictions.
With the United States not imposing air travel restrictions on Canada, the loophole has allowed everything from Canadian snowbirds traveling to the warm areas of Florida and Arizona in the winter to family members on both sides of the border setting up unnecessary visits.
On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his request that Canadians stay at home and avoid travel of any kind, including domestic and international travel.
Trudeau has recognized that he cannot constitutionally prevent Canadians from traveling, but warned that returning to Canada could soon become much more difficult.
« We could introduce new measures that seriously affect your ability to return to Canada at any time without warning, » Trudeau said during a news conference on Friday, adding, « The bottom line is this is not the right time either internationally or across the country travel. «
International air travelers currently entering Canada must provide evidence of a negative test result for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure. A 14-day quarantine with violations of the law is also imposed. There are exceptions for essential workers.
Canadian officials say they are looking for more measures that would prevent as much travel as possible and they hope a new deal with the United States will help.
« We are considering a number of measures, which may include further restrictions on international travel, additional traceability, additional quarantine and enforcement measures to create incentives and deter people from taking unnecessary travel, » Blair said on Friday.
Officials also said week-long lockdowns in most parts of Canada are slowly starting to work with new daily cases of COVID-19 traps.
« This gives us hope that community-based control measures will take effect, » said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. « But it’s too early to be sure that these measures are strong and broad enough to put us on a steady downtrend. »
The United States border crossing is on Wednesday March 18, 2020 to see in Lacolle, Que. According to Justin Trudeau, Canada will need stricter screening measures to cope with an expected increase in the number of people entering the country from the US. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Ryan Remiorz
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