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December 15, 2021 – Update by the federal government on the COVID-19 pandemic

The following is an update on recent decisions and actions by the federal government related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New restrictions on foreign travel

Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Minister of Health, announced that the Government of Canada is advising Canadians against non-essential travel abroad. The government is also reinstating the requirement to test negative for COVID-19 for travel outside of Canada for less than 72 hours.

Both measures come into effect today, for at least four weeks.

“To those who were planning to travel I say very clearly, now is not the time to do so. Whether we like it or not, we have to adapt to this new reality. We have to pull together and do everything in our power to protect our healthcare system and our front-line workers,” Mr. Duclos said.

The federal government expressed concern for Canadians travelling abroad in the coming weeks.

Mr. Duclos stated: “Canadians who travel could contract the virus and find themselves stranded abroad in difficult conditions. Someone who has been infected abroad may not be allowed to board a plane back home.”

Screening capacity at airports will also be increased. Announcements will be made in the coming days.

Economic update: major investments for COVID-19

Canada currently has 16 million rapid tests and another 35 million are in the process of being delivered to the provinces and territories.

Hundreds of millions of rapid tests have also been ordered to meet future needs. At least $1.7 billion will be spent on more than 180 million of these tests.

The federal government has committed $7.3 billion to purchase vaccines and booster doses.

Additionally, $2 billion will be spent to buy millions of COVID-19 pills, once Health Canada approves their use.

Finally, $4.5 billion has been earmarked to ensure the continuation of financial assistance programs for businesses affected by the health restrictions on travel.

Epidemiological situation in the Montréal region

Dr. Mylène Drouin, Regional Director of Public Health for Montréal, said that two doses of vaccine do not provide adequate protection against the infection caused by the Omicron variant. She also announced that nearly 95 cases of the Omicron variant have been identified in Montréal.

For this reason, she recommended avoiding gatherings during the Holiday season.

“We may have to collectively revisit some of the plans we had in mind for the festive season,” she said. “It’s disappointing for everyone. It’s certainly not what we wanted.”