Canada to close borders to most non-citizens

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and U.S. citizens are not part of the ban on arrivals

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is closing its borders to most people who are not citizens or permanent residents to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and U.S. citizens are not part of the ban on travel.

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The federal government is also mandating air carriers to screen passengers with symptoms of the novel coronavirus out of lines so they don't board planes home.

He said the country is taking “increasingly aggressive steps'' to keep everyone safe.

The Canada/U.S. land border will remain open and Canadians abroad can return into the country, but the door is being slammed close on visitors from elsewhere. Trudeau said the government also intends to continue to allow trade with other countries, but no visitors will be permitted.

The sweeping travel restrictions come as Canada passed 320 confirmed cases of the disease over the weekend and after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a 30-day travel ban on citizens of 26 European countries that took effect at midnight last Friday.

Over the weekend, the government announced any Canadians abroad should come home by commercial means as soon as possible.

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government will no longer be able to do mass repatriation flights. The flights from abroad that are coming in will also be directed to only four airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Torobti and Montreal.

Late last week, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said a similar ban of imposing border measures between our country and the United States wouldn’t work.

“Canadians think we can stop this at the border. But what we see is a global pandemic, which means that border measures are highly ineffective and, in some cases, can create harm. We see that in countries that had the worst expressions, the tightest borders,” Hajdu explained on Friday.

— with files from Canadian Press

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