Federal government makes self-isolation for travellers mandatory

Federal government makes self-isolation for travellers mandatory

As of early Thursday morning, all travellers returning home to Canada must go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days according to new measures being enacted under the federal Quarantine Act.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland initially said the system would begin at midnight Wednesday and require 14 days of isolation.

"This new measure will provide the clarity for those re-entering the country about the essential need to self-isolate", she said in the Senate on March 25.

Canada is using the Quarantine Act to impose that period of isolation for people returning to the country.

Anyone returning to Canada from overseas - even if it's just across the Canada-U.S. border - will now have to self-quarantine at home or face the consequences.

Hajdu also said officials will be following up with travellers and will conduct random inspections to make sure they're following the rules. "To protect the health and safety of returning Canadians and those who are around them, we are strengthening our measures at the border", said Hajdu. "At the same time, all of us are going to be and feel safer with mandatory quarantines for anyone entering Canada".

Freeland said the issue of mandatory quarantines was debated at length during the Monday meeting of the cabinet coronavirus committee.

The measure was one step beyond a previous government recommendation to self-isolate, and comes amid reports that some were ignoring the guidance.

"Maximum penalties include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months".

Global travel, particularly from hard-hit countries such as China, Iran, and South Korea and then later Europe and the USA, has been identified as one of the major reasons for the virus' spread in Canada.

Asked about the possibility of more stringent screening measures at the border, Freeland called the situation "fluid and evolving" and said federal officials are monitoring the situation around the world "by the hour". The Canada-U.S. border has also been closed to all non-essential travel.

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