Canada shutting the border to most non-citizens due to COVID-19: PM Trudeau

OTTAWA —
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will be shutting the border to non-Canadian citizens, with the exception of, permanent residents, the immediate family members of Canadian citizens, diplomats, air crews, and U.S. citizens at this time.

Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 will not be able to enter Canada. Air operators are being instructed to prevent any traveller who presents symptoms of the virus from boarding a plane.

“I know this news will spark concern,” Trudeau said to Canadians who are currently out of the country.

He said the government will support Canadians currently abroad through a program that will see them either cover the costs to get them home, or cover their basic needs while they wait to return.

He addressed the nation from self-isolation at Rideau Cottage, updating Canadians on the measures being taken to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trudeau said the virus has been spreading quickly across the world, and Canada is no exception. Therefore, Canada is taking “increasingly aggressive steps” to keep Canadians safe.

Trudeau announced additional flight restrictions effective Wednesday, that will see some international flights rerouted to Montreal, Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver for dedicated enhanced screening.

The prime minister said these border restrictions will not apply to commerce or trade.

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

With schools, community centres and businesses shutting their doors in an effort to help contain the novel coronavirus, many Canadians are spending the day indoors, social distancing or self-isolating.

Throughout the day provincial governments and health authorities have been providing updates on the number of cases in their provinces, with some premiers calling for more action from the federal government, including tightening up the borders.

The prime minister has been self-isolating since Thursday, when his wife Sophie was confirmed to have contracted the virus. On Monday morning, Trudeau spoke with fellow G7 leaders.

Soon, his federal cabinet will be holding a media availability featuring several top cabinet ministers from Parliament Hill, where the details of the latest measures being taken will be discussed.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, and Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam will speak from the National Press Theatre.

Trudeau chaired a federal cabinet meeting from his own self-isolation on Sunday. Before the meeting, he told CTV’s Question Period that all options for further measures were on the table and being discussed. He also committed that additional measures to support families and workers would be coming.

Last week, Parliament suspended sitting for five weeks and the Liberals rolled out a $1-billion health and economic response package, as well as an additional $10 billion for businesses who are being impacted by the virus and consumers’ changing habits.

As of when Trudeau began speaking, there were 377 cases in Canada, most stemming from travel outside of Canada.

With files from CTV News’ Michel Boyer and Cillian O’Brien

This is a breaking news update, more to come…

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