Just as infection rates are beginning to dramatically increase across the country (and the U.S.), potentially signalling increased immigration regulations and travel bans, we’re also hearing word of a potentially imminent vaccine. Below, we’ll look at both developments in greater detail and what impact they may have on Canadian immigration in the coming months.
This autumn, COVID-19 case numbers across North America have been on the rise. This week, the United States recorded a record number of hospitalizations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the country has now passed the 10 million infections mark. A total of 43 states reported at least 10% more COVID-19 infections this week as opposed to last week.
Although the numbers in Canada are overall lower than the United States, Canada is experiencing a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections similar to our neighbours to the south. Prime Minister Trudeau called on mayors and premiers across the nation to “do the right thing” and reintroduce restrictions in order to combat the virus. The Prime Minister said:
“We’re seeing record spikes this morning across the country. So I’m imploring the premiers and our mayors to please do the right thing — act now to protect public health…If you think something is missing in the support we’re offering for your citizens — tell us.”
On Thursday, Ontario broke another COVID-19 record with 1575 new cases recorded, a single-day high for the province. Most of the infections are coming out of the Greater Toronto Area, with Peel Region and the City of Toronto recording the highest numbers. Regions are starting to promulgate new restrictions in order to fight the rising infections, such as banning indoor dining and fitness classes in hopes that the numbers will begin to decline.
Out west, Alberta is preparing to introduce further restrictions because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases. This news comes merely a week after the introduction of the Alberta COVID-19 Border Testing Pilot Program. The Program allows travellers arriving in Canada through certain points of entry in Alberta to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine by taking a COVID-19 test and then quarantining in the province until they receive a negative result. Although no changes to the program have been announced thus far, this could change. If you are planning to travel to Canada through Alberta and take advantage of the program, be sure to check on the program’s status.
Some good news came out earlier this week that could have the largest impact on global travel and immigration to date since the start of the pandemic. This Monday, it was announced that a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is more than 90% effective against the COVID-19 virus. Pfizer is planning to ask the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization later in November. The vaccine is delivered in two doses, and health Canada has specified that it has reserved 20 million doses, enough to inoculate 10 million Canadians.
According to Pfizer, should the vaccine be approved, the doses will be delivered throughout 2021, with 1.3 billion doses being produced for worldwide distribution by the end of 2021. The population of Canada is approximately 38 million people, meaning that should Canada only receive 20 million doses by the end of 2021, just over a quarter of the population will be granted access to the vaccine. However, Canada should have the option to purchase more doses, should the supply be available.
Overall, this is encouraging news, though the impact will likely take at least a year to be felt on a large scale. An effective vaccine could dramatically affect the current situation, once again allowing people to travel more freely, and enable countries to reopen borders that have been closed for months.
Make sure you stay updated on regional restrictions and regulations before you make travel arrangements. If you are trying to travel make sure you qualify as essential or prepare an exemption request. Depending on where you are going, you may also need a 14-day quarantine plan. If you have questions about where you can travel, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.