The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March but fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine — the rest were deemed “essential” travellers and exempted from the requirement.

Canada began to limit foreign travel in March, first asking Canadians themselves to avoid non-essential travel outside the country, and then as of March 16 barring entry to anyone who wasn’t Canadian, a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen.

The ban was extended to include Americans on March 21. The 30-day closure of the U.S. border has now been extended seven times, and while it’s currently set to expire Nov. 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated to an Ontario radio station Friday that he is not anxious to reopen the border any time soon.

“I think we all want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. We also know that in order to get things back to normal we have to control the spread of COVID-19,” Trudeau said on CKSY in Chatham-Kent Friday morning.

“At this point, the risks are still too great to reopen the border.”

READ MORE: Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

Canadians and permanent residents are allowed to return home, but must quarantine for 14 days unless they fall into an essential category, like truck drivers, airline crew members, the military or people coming to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Essential travellers are asked to wear masks when they can’t physically distance from others, and medical workers are asked not to treat people over the age of 65 for 14 days.

Essential travellers also made up the bulk of arrivals according to data provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It said 3.5 million travellers, as of Oct. 20, had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential and were asked to quarantine for two weeks.

PHAC follows up with most asked to quarantine with live or automated calls, and has asked RCMP or local police to verify the whereabouts of 247,137 people asked to quarantine.

The agency said 76 tickets and eight summons have been issued to people found in violation of the quarantine order.

PHAC’s statistics do vary from data published weekly by the Canada Border Services Agency, which lists total arrivals by land, rail and air, as well as whether air travellers arrived from the U.S. or another country.

That data shows travel to this country plunged more than 90 per cent since the borders were closed compared to the same period in 2019.

Almost half of all the travellers arriving since March were truck drivers, according to CBSA.

CBSA also says 63 per cent of air travellers were either Canadians or permanent residents.

Cole Davidson, spokesman for Health Minister Patty Hajdu, said the border closure is critical to Canada’s COVID-19 strategy.

“This is an important tool in keeping our families and communities safe, and it’s working,” he said.

Health Canada data covering 80 per cent of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date shows about 4.4 per cent of them involved recent travellers or people who had come into contact with them.

The government began allowing foreign nationals who are immediate relatives of a Canadian or permanent resident to come to Canada in June, and more recently expanded that to include extended family members, such as grandparents or siblings, as well as international students.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirustravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Bids for Kids poster
Wolf Creek Youth Foundation online auction gets ‘overwhelming’ response

Santa’s Bids for Kids auction to benefit youth programs in Rimbey, Ponoka

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

People wear face masks as they pose next to a Christmas display in Montreal, Sunday, November 22, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
How to tell family their Christmas gathering is too risky and you’re not going

Dr. Hurst says it’s best to frame the conversation from a place of care, stressing safety precautions.

A sign instructs people to wear masks in downtown Calgary on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. Pub and restaurant owners are trying to figure out how to comply with a stricter COVID-19 measure in Alberta that dictates only six people from the same household can sit at one table. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Brewpub owner pleased Alberta not closing sit-down dining as COVID-19 cases soar

Alberta’s caseload of COVID-19 infections has been growing for weeks

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

A pedestrian wears masks while out walking in front of the Alberta Legislature as the COVID-19 numbers spike in Edmonton on Tuesday November 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Doctor says Alberta restrictions not enough to reduceCOVID-19 strain on hospitals

Mithani notes people are still allowed to gather indoors at large places of worship and in bars,

Most Read