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


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

The Canada Border Services Agency provides data each week on the number of people arriving in Canada by land or air, saying “most” people entering the country must quarantine for two weeks.

Essential travellers include truck drivers, airline crew members, health-care workers, members of the military, people living in border communities who need to perform everyday functions in Canada, and people Ottawa deems essential to managing the pandemic.

The Public Health Agency of Canada provided data to The Canadian Press that shows 4.6 million people arrived in Canada since March 21, when the border was to be closed to all non-essential travel.

Of those, 3.5 million were considered essential while 1.1 million people were non-essential travellers and ordered to quarantine.

Health Canada data on 80 per cent of the confirmed cases to date shows about 4.4 per cent of the total number of positive cases of COVID-19 in this country involved recent travellers or people who came into contact with them.


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