Thousands Still Flying Into Canadian Airports Despite COVID-19 Restrictions

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

While transborder and international flights coming into Canada have been significantly curtailed since the outbreak of COVID-19, thousands of passengers are still arriving each week at the country's airports, and an infection control epidemiologist believes it is cause for concern.

"The fact of the matter is this pandemic arrived everywhere in the world through travel," Colin Furness, who is also an assistant professor with the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information, said in an interview with CBC.

"We should be closing our borders as much as we can. We can't bring [the number of entrants] down to zero but we should get as close as we can."

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, 356,673 air pax came into Canada from the U.S. between 11-17MAY 2019. In the same period this year, there was a nearly 99% drop.

Yet 3,691 people still entered Canada that week.

Other international travel in that time period saw a 97% decrease from last year's total of 374,775. This year, during that same week, 10,845 people arrived at one of the four Canadian airports that accept international flights — YUL, YYZ, YYC and YVR.

In total, since 23MAR, 76,072 pax from the U.S. and 193,438 from other international destinations have arrived in Canada.

Two months ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government was barring foreign nationals from all countries except the U.S. from entering Canada.

But an order in council later that month exempted a number of individuals, including immediate family members of a Canadian citizen, emergency service providers, temporary foreign workers and international students.

The ban came at a time when the vast majority of COVID-19 cases were deemed to be travel-related. Since those restrictions have been implemented, travel-related cases of COVID-19 have dropped significantly. 

Anyone arriving in Canada by air or land must complete a contact tracing form to help the Public Health Agency of Canada monitor and enforce the 14-day quarantine or isolation requirement. Failing to comply with the Quarantine Act can lead to a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.

Last week, PHAC revealed to CBC News that police officers have made nearly 2,200 home visits to make sure Canadians are complying with the self-isolation rules when they return to Canada.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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