With 2020 in the rearview mirror, some may expect that Canada’s current travel regulations are due to ease up, especially as the number of vaccinated Canadians begins to rise. However, the Canadian government remains persistent in its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. On December 30, Ottawa announced some new regulations pertaining to air travel. The changed regulations will make it so that air passengers that are entering Canada will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before their arrival in Canada. Would-be travellers coming to Canada must receive a negative PCR test within 72 hours of boarding a plane to Canada.
It is currently not known when this new policy will be implemented, as government officials declined to specify the date of inception for the policy, however, they did state that the regulation would be put into place quickly. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair also made sure to mention that this new measure will coexist with, rather than replace, the current 14-day mandatory quarantine period upon arrival to Canada. As a result of the new policy, the Canadian Border Services Agency will have an increased presence at airports all over the country to tell travellers about the mandatory quarantine rules and the consequences of the failure to follow the rules.
The Canadian government has been consistent in warning against non-essential travel outside of Canada during the pandemic. It is estimated that two percent of the total COVID-19 infections have been brought into Canada from other countries. Despite the seemingly low numbers of COVID-19 infections that originate from abroad, the new regulation should help to curb the spread of the virus.
In response to the new COVID-19 variant that was discovered in the United Kingdom earlier this month, many countries around the world are implementing new regulations in order to control their borders. For example, this week the Philippines enacted a travel restriction against 20 countries barring travellers from those countries from entering the Philippines. Canada was included as one of the countries on this list, so Canadians will not be able to travel to the Philippines until at least the middle of January. Travellers who were in transit to the country when the ban was enacted will not be barred from the country, however. This travel ban comes after the Philippine government prohibited the entry of all travellers following the discovery of the new COVID variant.
Another country with new travel regulations is Japan. Reacting even more severely than the Philippines, Japan has banned entry to travellers from all countries in order to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban is set to continue until at least the end of January. Japan had previously banned entry to most countries around the world but was allowing students and business professionals to enter in a limited capacity. Now, those exceptions seem to be gone for the time being, as the country is concerned about the new COVID-19 variant.
The new COVID-19 variant appears to be more transmissible than the original virus as a result of some mutations to the virus. The variant has been confirmed to be present in Canada, and although it is more contagious, it is not necessarily more dangerous. However, given that the new variant is more easily transmitted, it is important now more than ever to heed the government’s health advice in order to stay safe.
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.