Canada banned all flights coming from the United Kingdom beginning from December 20, 2020, at midnight in an enhanced effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
This new measure was announced via Twitter by Prime minister Justin Trudeau and Bill Blair, the minister of public safety.
Mr. Bill Blair said the travel restrictions will be in place for at least Seventy-two (72) hours, after which Canada will review this flights policy. Minister Blair also said the policy means flights from the United Kingdom to Canada will be canceled over the next three days.
Explaining the rationale behind the policy, Blair tweeted “We are taking this important step to protect Canadians and to keep our communities safe. These measures have been imposed following advice from public health experts. The restrictions will initially be in place for Seventy-two (72) hrs, after which time they could be enhanced or extended.”
In addition, travellers who arrived from the UK were subjected to enhanced secondary screenings.
In a press release, the federal government said the decision to suspend travel from the United Kingdom is due to the reported spread of a new strain of the COVID-19 in the United Kingdom. Little is known about the strain, but the press release said the Canadian government and health experts around the world are studying the new strains to better understand their implications.
The government of Canada has invested $40 million to support the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network to help study genetic variations of coronavirus as it evolves.
The new travel restriction is in addition to the ones Canada has had in place since March 2020.
While some new permanent immigrants, foreign workers, international students, and family members are exempted from the restrictions, most other foreign citizens have been unable to travel to Canada over this period.
With few exceptions, those entering Canada are subject to a mandatory fourteen (14) day quarantine.
Canada initially saw its new coronavirus cases peak in early May before successfully curbing the virus throughout the summer. Case counts have increased since September and Canada has recently recorded up to 7,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, compared with the springtime peaks of 2,760 cases on May 3rd.
Recently, Canada began the largest vaccination campaign in its history with the release of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
So far Canada expects to receive at least four million doses of this new Pfizer vaccine by the end of March 2021 which will be sufficient to vaccinate two million people. In addition, Health Canada is presently reviewing other vaccine candidates for approval.