By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Canada will introduce tough new regulations requiring air travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the country, the government announced Wednesday.
With cases climbing daily and news that the first variant of the virus – first discovered recently in the UK – has been found in Quebec and also Ontario, the action was necessary, said Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.
“The evidence is very strong,” he said at a press conference, that the new measure is needed to “keep this (virus) out of Canada.”
While a specific date for enactment of the regulation, which will see all travellers tested before they can land in Canada, was not given, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said it will be instituted quickly, with “more information in a few days.”
Blair said the government is now “conversing with the airlines” to determine the date and it will be known “very shortly.”
The new rule will require all airline passengers to test negatively for the virus three days before arriving in Canada.
The province of Ontario, which enacted a lockdown Dec. 26, has seen a record number of cases, with a new high of 2,923 reported Wednesday. It is a similar story in Quebec, where the number of cases totalled 2,511.
As of Wednesday, the total number of cases in Canada stood at 573,722, with 15,455 deaths, according to the US' Johns Hopkins University website which keeps a constant update of totals in all countries.
The new regulation was announced a day after it became public that Ontario’s finance minister was vacationing in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford has begged people to not travel or congregate in family groups during the holidays.
When news of Rod Phillips trip became public, Ford ordered him to return immediately from his vacation.