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

A picture of Bug before the attack by the dogs on Nov. 17, 2020. (Submitted photo)
Three dogs almost kill cat in Miller Road area near Duncan

Efforts to catch the canines unsuccessful so far

Beautiful morning with the sun peaking through, as viewed from Thetis Island. (Photo by Kelly Bannister)
November characterized by a record high, no snow and plenty of rain in Chemainus region

Temperature almost hits the 20 degree Celsius mark on Nov. 4

Group wants to start a pilot program for regenerative farms in North Cowichan. (File photo)
Group looks to North Cowichan for farmland

Land could also be used for affordable housing

The CVRD will reconsider its policies on fireworks after receiving complaints. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Regional District considers options for fireworks after receiving complaints

Distict only allows fireworks on Halloween and New Year’s Eve, with a permit

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read