The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March but fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine — the rest were deemed “essential” travellers and exempted from the requirement.

Canada began to limit foreign travel in March, first asking Canadians themselves to avoid non-essential travel outside the country, and then as of March 16 barring entry to anyone who wasn’t Canadian, a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen.

The ban was extended to include Americans on March 21. The 30-day closure of the U.S. border has now been extended seven times, and while it’s currently set to expire Nov. 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated to an Ontario radio station Friday that he is not anxious to reopen the border any time soon.

“I think we all want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. We also know that in order to get things back to normal we have to control the spread of COVID-19,” Trudeau said on CKSY in Chatham-Kent Friday morning.

“At this point, the risks are still too great to reopen the border.”

READ MORE: Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

Canadians and permanent residents are allowed to return home, but must quarantine for 14 days unless they fall into an essential category, like truck drivers, airline crew members, the military or people coming to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Essential travellers are asked to wear masks when they can’t physically distance from others, and medical workers are asked not to treat people over the age of 65 for 14 days.

Essential travellers also made up the bulk of arrivals according to data provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It said 3.5 million travellers, as of Oct. 20, had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential and were asked to quarantine for two weeks.

PHAC follows up with most asked to quarantine with live or automated calls, and has asked RCMP or local police to verify the whereabouts of 247,137 people asked to quarantine.

The agency said 76 tickets and eight summons have been issued to people found in violation of the quarantine order.

PHAC’s statistics do vary from data published weekly by the Canada Border Services Agency, which lists total arrivals by land, rail and air, as well as whether air travellers arrived from the U.S. or another country.

That data shows travel to this country plunged more than 90 per cent since the borders were closed compared to the same period in 2019.

Almost half of all the travellers arriving since March were truck drivers, according to CBSA.

CBSA also says 63 per cent of air travellers were either Canadians or permanent residents.

Cole Davidson, spokesman for Health Minister Patty Hajdu, said the border closure is critical to Canada’s COVID-19 strategy.

“This is an important tool in keeping our families and communities safe, and it’s working,” he said.

Health Canada data covering 80 per cent of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date shows about 4.4 per cent of them involved recent travellers or people who had come into contact with them.

The government began allowing foreign nationals who are immediate relatives of a Canadian or permanent resident to come to Canada in June, and more recently expanded that to include extended family members, such as grandparents or siblings, as well as international students.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirustravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

A member of the Vernon Search and Rescue winch helicopter team pulls a skier who broke her leg at the gorge backcountry area east of Sicamous into the helicopter on Friday March 5. (Shuswap Search and Rescue/Facebook)
Search and rescue helicopter helps injured skier out of Shuswap backcountry

The Salmon Arm woman broke her leg, but was helped out of the bush thanks to radio communication.

SASCU is looking to celebrate its 75th anniversary with a legacy project, in the same way the Shuswap credit union marked its 60th by commissioning the apple sculpture at its downtown location. That artwork includes 14 apples honouring SASCU’s founding families. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap credit union to mark 75th anniversary with legacy project

SASCU will be looking for input from arts community, city

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes Okanagan mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read