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January 29, 2021 – Federal and provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Canadian and Québec governments in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ban on travel to the Caribbean and Mexico

 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a ban on all passenger flights to the Caribbean and Mexico starting on Sunday and running until April 30, in order to counter the spread of COVID-19 in Canada as well as the importation of a possible new variant of the virus by an infected traveler arriving from these southern regions.

Even though less than 2% of cases of people infected with the virus are related to nationals returning to the country, Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated that each case is one case too many and that the “new additional measures seek to counter the arrival of new variants in the country,” because they are much more contagious.

Québec satisfied with these new measures

The deputy premier of Québec, Geneviève Guilbault, reacted positively to Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement of a new ban on non-essential international travel, even though it is limited to the Caribbean and Mexico, to counter the arrival of nationals infected with the virus or the introduction of new variants of the coronavirus.

The Québec government appreciates that the announcement was made before the school break.

The deputy premier noted that this is a good decision, but that other destinations further south or north of the Caribbean have been excluded, as have other international destinations, even though the new variants that have been identified come from the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa.

“We continue to be very concerned about the variants,” said Ms Guilbault, who stated that Premier François Legault has asked several times for all non-essential international travel to be banned.

Strict measures upon arrival

Effective Sunday, new measures will also be added for Canadians returning to the country, particularly the addition of a screening test upon arrival at the airport and a mandatory three-day stay at their own expense at a designated hotel.

Prime Minister Trudeau explained that the new conditions establish that these travellers will have to assume the cost of the test at the airport and their accommodation at the hotel, which will be about $2,000 for the three days.

“If the result of their COVID-19 test is negative, they will be able to continue their strict, mandatory and monitored quarantine at home. If their result is positive, they will be transferred to a government quarantine centre to complete their 14 days (of isolation),” said Justin Trudeau.

To guarantee that travelers more faithfully respect the quarantine, the federal government has also doubled the personnel designated to monitor quarantine, particularly through contracts with security agencies.

Québec police officers to bolster quarantine measures

Québec Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault announced that Sûreté du Québec and municipal police officers started monitoring travellers in quarantine on January 22 and have the power to issue tickets to those who do not respect the rules of isolation, effective Monday.

The federal government will provide the police with the list of people returning from travel in order to verify if they are following the quarantine rules.

Ms Guilbault specified that the vast majority of people who are in quarantine seem to be following the isolation guidelines.

Four international airports only

The federal government is also restricting air access to the country to four airports, namely, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montréal.

The prime minister added that the four main Canadian airlines, Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat, are cooperating with the tightening of the rules and will organize the repatriation of their clients currently abroad in the Caribbean and Mexico.

Delays in receipt of the vaccines

 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was reassuring about the national vaccination campaign currently underway, despite the interruptions and delays in delivery of the vaccines over the next few weeks due to pharmaceutical production delays.

He stated that the reductions in the deliveries of doses, by both Pfizer and Moderna, are momentary and that the resumption of production will enable Canada to receive greater quantities of doses of the vaccines and in a more timely fashion.

Mr. Trudeau stated that Canadians who wish to will be able to receive their vaccination by the end of September.