Despite the Canadian government’s best efforts to keep the coronavirus pandemic under control by doing things like closing the U.S.-Canada borders and instituting a strict, mandatory 14-day quarantine, international flights continue to arrive with confirmed Covid-19 cases aboard.
The government reports on its COVID-19 travel advice website that at least 65 international flights from destinations abroad like Turkey, Germany and the U.S. have arrived in Canada with passengers aboard who have tested positive for the coronavirus. A similar number of domestic flights have also been reported as having passengers with Covid-19 on board.
In response to the growing number of coronavirus cases entering the country, the government has set up a specialized website that lets travelers on flights (both domestic and international), cruises and trains know the locations where they may have been exposed to Covid-19.
The website states that: “You may have been exposed to COVID-19 during recent travel, such as by airplane, cruise ship or train (any public conveyance). Being aware of the risk can help you take the necessary steps to protect your health and the health of others around you. You can see if you may have been exposed to COVID-19 during your travels by checking your flight, cruise or train trip below.”
The government does note, however, that the information on the site is not exhaustive and it comes from reports received from:
- provincial and territorial health authorities
- international health authorities
- public websites
The website is updated daily and info that is older than 14 days is removed.
Canada first limited international travel on March 11, 2013 and banned all non-essential travel. On March 25, 2020, the government went further and put in place mandatory quarantine restrictions for anyone entering Canada from a foreign destination. Despite these measures, flights with COVID-19 aboard continue to enter the country.
To review: travel restrictions were enacted as an emergency order under Canada’s Quarantine Act to help contain Covid-19. The Act mandates that:
When entering Canada, you’ll be:
- asked if you have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing
- required to acknowledge that you must:
- quarantine for 14 days if you don’t have symptoms or
- isolate for 14 days if you have symptoms
- asked if you have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine, where:
- you’ll have access to basic necessities, including water, food, medication and heat during the winter months
- you won’t have contact with people who:
- are 65 years or older
- have underlying medical conditions
- have compromised immune systems
- given instructions about the actions you must take under the emergency order and the penalties for non-compliance
Travelers entering Canada must also:
provide traveller contact information through:
- the ArriveCAN mobile app or
- an accessible web-based form or
- a paper form
- undergo screening by a border official
- answer any relevant questions: when you arrive in Canada during your 14-day period while in quarantine or isolation
The government of Canada also has stiff fines for those who ignore the 14-day quarantine. Failing to quarantine could result in:
- 6 months in prison and/or
- $750,000 in fines
- If you choose to break your mandatory quarantine or isolation, resulting in the death or serious bodily harm to another person, you could face:
- a fine of up to $1,000,000 or
- imprisonment of up to 3 years or
The Contraventions Act gives police (including the RCMP, provincial and local police) more power to enforce the Quarantine Act. They can issue tickets to people who don’t comply with the act or the emergency orders. Fines range from $275 to $1,000. Get more info here.