Just two days after introducing a travel ban on flights from the Southern Africa region — including South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Namibia— the government of Canada has now expanded the ban. The government has also announced additional strict border measures to reduce the risk of the importation of Covid-19 and its variants, like Omicron, into Canada.
“We are taking quick action at our borders to mitigate travel related importations of the Omicron variant. While our monitoring systems are working well, we now know that the Omicron variant is present in Canada. We need to remain vigilant in our own actions. Vaccination and simple public health measures such as masking and limiting the number of persons we interact with slow down transmission, reduce hospitalization and death, and protect our health systems from being overwhelmed. We must all continue to do our part to protect all people in Canada,” said Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos.
In a press release, the government states that “On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization classified B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern called Omicron. Since then it has been found in a number of countries and regions, including the confirmation of several travel-related cases in Canada. That is why today, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, and the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, announced additional border measures to reduce the risk of the importation and transmission of Covid-19 and its variants in Canada related to international travel.”
As of December 1, 2021, foreign nationals who have been in any of these countries within the previous 14 days will not be permitted entry into Canada:
- South Africa; and
Canadian citizens, permanent residents and people with status under the Indian Act, are still allowed into the country. However, regardless of their vaccination status or having had a previous history of testing positive for Covid-19, if they have been in any of the above 10 countries in the previous 14 days, they will be subject to enhanced pre-entry and arrival testing, screening, and quarantine measures.
The Canadian government also signalled its intentions to be able to change border requirements quickly by stating that, “Moving forward, border testing surveillance will be adjusted based on the latest available evidence to further reduce the risk of importation of this variant”.
The government also introduced new Covid-19 airport testing rules for all international travel aside from the U.S. The press release states that “In the coming days, all fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air from departure points other than the United States will be subject to arrival testing. Fully vaccinated travellers will be required to quarantine while they await the results of their arrival test.”
“Unvaccinated travellers, with right of entry to Canada, will continue to be tested on arrival and day 8 and quarantine for 14 days. However, those arriving by air will now be required to stay in a designated quarantine facility or other suitable location while they await the result of their on arrival test.” Note that Canada will continue to no longer require negative PCR Covid tests for shorter cross-border trips to the U.S.
“Our government continues to take unprecedented and swift action to protect the health and safety of Canadians as we introduce new robust, science-based measures to prevent Covid-19 variants of concern from being spread in Canada. The new requirements announced today are another layer of protection to to safeguard Canadians’ health,” said Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra.
The press release ends by noting that the Government of Canada will continue to assess the evolving situation, monitor case data, and adjust border measures as required. The Government of Canada is working collaboratively with its provincial and territorial counterparts. While the impact of all variants continues to be monitored in Canada, vaccination in combination with public health and individual measures, is working to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and its variants.