Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada

Updated: March 31, 2020


Original publication: March 14, 2020

Current Situation

The COVID-19 outbreak is now a global issue, and has been declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Public Health Agency of Canada is advising travellers to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

Many countries are reporting community or widespread transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, and there is the possibility that the virus could also be present in countries that may not have the capacity to detect or contain the virus.

As foreign governments implement strict travel restrictions and international transportation options continue to become less available, you may have difficulty returning to Canada or may be unable to do so. Local authorities may impose control measures suddenly, including movement restrictions such as quarantine. In some countries, travellers may have limited access to timely and appropriate health care should they become ill.

Older people and those with a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition(s) are at a higher risk of developing severe disease.

On March 25th, 2020, an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act was implemented that requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to quarantine (self-isolate) themselves for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.

Travel to Canada is also currently being restricted for all foreign nationals coming from any country. These new restrictions prohibit foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for non-essential travel. Exemptions to the prohibition exist for certain groups of foreign nationals, for example, temporary foreign workers, some students, and persons delivering urgent medical supplies as long as they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

If you must travel, please visit the Government of Canada's travel advice and advisories page for your destination(s) regularly to verify travel health recommendations and safety and security information.

About coronaviruses

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses. Some coronaviruses can cause no or mild illness, like the common cold, but other coronaviruses can cause severe illness, like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

Some human coronaviruses spread easily between people, while others do not.

As with other respiratory illnesses, COVID-19 can cause mild symptoms including cough and fever. It can also become more severe for some people and lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties that may require medical attention or hospitalisation.

There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illnesses will recover on their own.

Recommendations for travellers

If you must travel, take precautions against respiratory illnesses.

During your trip:

All travellers are reminded to follow these health precautions:

Wash your hands:

Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:

Monitor your health:

If you become sick when you are travelling and think you have COVID-19, avoid contact with others and follow local public health advice regarding seeking care.

Travelling back to Canada:

If you feel sick during your flight to Canada or upon arrival, you must inform the flight attendant or a Canada Border Services Agent.

If you do not have symptoms but believe you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19, report this information to a Canada Border Services Agent on arrival in Canada. This is required under the Quarantine Act. The Canada Border Services Agent will provide instructions for you to follow.

Upon return to Canada:

The Government of Canada has put in place an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travellers arriving in Canada in order to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

Your compliance with this Order is subject to monitoring, verification and enforcement. Those in violation may face detention in a quarantine facility as well as fines and/or imprisonment.

Travellers with symptoms: mandatory isolation

If you have recently returned to Canada and you have symptoms, you must ISOLATE. This is mandatory. If required, immediate medical attention will be provided upon arrival in Canada.

Mandatory isolation means you MUST:

If your symptoms get worse, immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and:

If you do not have a place to isolate (or cannot get to your place of isolation using private transportation), you will be required to isolate for 14 days in a facility designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.

Travellers without symptoms: mandatory quarantine

If you have recently returned to Canada and you have no symptoms, you must QUARANTINE (self-isolate) yourself. This is mandatory. You are at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others.

This means you MUST:

You can take public transportation, but you must not make any unnecessary stops on your way home,and you must practice physical (social) distancing at all times.

If you develop symptoms within 14 days:

As the continued global movement of goods and people and the ongoing delivery of essential services will be important for Canada's response to COVID-19, there are some exemptions to the order to self-isolate for certain workers listed as an essential service.

Government of Canada novel coronavirus information line: 1-833-784-4397

Registration of Canadians Abroad

Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.

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