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

Updated: April 19, 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.

The Government of Canada's Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act requires persons entering Canada by air, sea or land to isolate for 14 days if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or to quarantine themselves for 14 days if they are asymptomatic to limit the spread of COVID-19.

On April 15, 2020, an update to the Order was issued.

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.

Recent studies provide evidence that transmission of the virus causing COVID-19 can happen from infected people, before they develop symptoms. There is also evidence that some infected people who never develop symptoms are able to transmit the virus.

Symptoms, similar to a cold or flu, may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.

Symptoms have included:

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

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 the health precautions listed below.

Wash your hands:

Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:

Wearing non-medical masks or face coverings:

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:

Air travellers are required to undergo a health check prior to boarding. In the event that the air operator observes that the air traveller has COVID-19 symptoms, the air operator will be required to refuse to board the person for travel for a period of 14 days or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms that the symptoms that the person is exhibiting are not related to the COVID-19 virus.

As of April 20, 2020, new measures requiring all air passengers to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel will be in effect.

When travelling by air, travellers will be asked to cover their mouth and nose:

Passengers on all flights departing or arriving at Canadian airports will also be required to demonstrate they have the necessary non-medical mask or face covering during the boarding process otherwise they will not be allowed to continue on their journey.

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 require non-medical masks or face coverings upon arrival. Travellers can also wear homemade cloth face coverings. Masks or face coverings may be provided upon arrival as appropriate.

Upon arrival, every traveller will need to confirm that they have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine where they will have access to basic necessities, such as food and medication. Travellers will be expected to make plans for where they will isolate or quarantine in advance of arriving to Canada. Travellers who do not have an appropriate place in which to isolate or quarantine themselves must go to a place designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. These criteria are newly applied to asymptomatic travellers.

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:

Travellers without symptoms: mandatory quarantine

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

This means you MUST:

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

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