Mandatory quarantines to apply to returning travellers, Freeland says

Cheryl Sanders
March 26, 2020

The federal government announced tough new measures to make sure Canadians returning home from travel overseas isolate themselves from others.

Asked about the possibility of more stringent screening measures at the border, Freeland called the situation "fluid and evolving" and said federal officials are monitoring the situation around the world "by the hour".

The health minister said global travellers who display symptoms of COVID-19 will be told they are not allowed to take public transportation to their place of isolation.

People arriving on flights at one of four global airports in the country will be required to self-isolate in the city they land in and the government will take care of accommodations and meals in those situations.

Anyone returning to Canada from overseas - even if it's just across the Canada-U.S. border - will now have to self-quarantine at home or face the consequences.

Canada is now testing 10,000 people a day and has tested more than 142,000 people.

"Public health officials have been loud and clear: this virus could devastate our community", he said.

She said the federal Quarantine Act doesn't give police any new powers, but peace officers will play an assistance role in response to requests from screening or quarantine officers.

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.

Hajdu has been signalling tougher measures under the Quarantine Act were on their way for several days now.

Travellers must self-isolate even if they don't have COVID-19-like symptoms.

The measure was one step beyond a previous government recommendation to self-isolate, and comes amid reports that some were ignoring the guidance. He said it also covers a person who is sick or quarantined, or looking after someone sick.

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

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