While some may believe our border has been completely closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, that’s not the case.
Since travel restrictions were put in place by the Trudeau government last spring, 617,917 Canadian citizens and permanent residents have flown into Canada, according to numbers provided by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).
While that may seem like a grand number, the number of people entering the country remains a fraction of what it normally would be.
The CBSA says that from Aug. 24 through the Aug. 30, 65,285 arrived in Canada aboard a plane, a figure which is 92.6 per cent less than a year earlier. That number does not include those that crossed the border on land or by sea.
There could be a myriad of reasons why people are still crossing into Canada, but when they do return to Canadian soil, they are required to start a quarantine or go into self-isolation.
Global News has compiled a list of information from the Government of Canada’s website on what visitors must do once they arrive here as well as who is allowed to travel here and how they can prepare for entry and quarantine.
Who can come to Canada?
Naturally, Canadians and permanent residents who are abroad are allowed to return.
Their family members are also allowed to visit although they will need to provide proof of the relationship and let border officials know how long they are staying.
The list of eligible family members includes spouses, parents, children guardians and tutors.
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Others who wish to visit Canada must prove they are crossing the border for essential reasons but that does not include funerals or visiting a dying family member or friend.
There are some exceptions to the rules. Students, people working in certain fields, diplomats and those approved for permanent residency can also qualify to cross the border as well.
What can travellers do before they arrive into Canada?
The CBSA has a mobile app (ArriveCap), which will allows travellers to submit some of their entry data ahead of time. The app will allow people to cut down their wait time at the border, according to the CBSA.
Don’t worry, the app is not designed to keep track of people’s movements, a health Canada spokesperson confirmed to Global News.
Travellers should also download the COVID Alert App as it allows people to know when they have come into close proximity with others who have caught the virus. The app also does not track a person’s location but instead uses Bluetooth to share anonymous codes between phones within a close proximity, which determine whether or not someone has come into contact with a person who has caught the virus.
Travellers are also asked by the government to wear a mask if travelling to Canada on an airplane.
What must travellers do upon arrival into Canada?
When people arrive at the border, they will be asked to answer a series of questions about the status of their health.
If you arrive with symptoms, let customs officials know. Someone will assess the situation and get medical help if needed.
Travellers will also be asked to provide plans for isolation/quarantine including where they will stay, how they will get there and whether they can access the basics such as water, food, medication and heat during the winter months.
Border officials will also ask travellers to guarantee they will not make contact with those over the age of 64, anyone with underlying medical conditions or compromised immune systems.
What should travellers do while they quarantine?
Go directly to their place of quarantine or isolation, without making stops along the way.
Make sure to remain inside the place of quarantine — be it a house, apartment or even a trailer — and self-monitor for symptoms.
If someone is in isolation, have food delivered and only leave for medical reasons.
Try to avoid contract with people as much as possible and keep any interaction as brief as you can.
The federal government has a lengthy list of supplies you should have on hand including masks, soap and paper towels. Consult this page for a full list of recommended materials.
You can also provide updates on how your quarantine/isolation is coming along on the ArriveCan app.
If you are in mandatory quarantine, a public health official could contact you with a random spot check to ensure you are following your quarantine plan.
If you begin to develop symptoms of the coronavirus, contact your local public health unit or your family doctor for guidance on how what to do next.
What happens if you don’t follow your plan?
You can receive a fine of up to $750,000 and/or six months jail time.
You can also be kicked out of Canada for a period of time or permanently.
If your decision to break quarantine results in someone’s death or injury, you could face fines of up to $1 million and/or spend three years behind bars.
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