Canada suspends UK flights for 72 hours
Canada suspends UK flights for 72 hours. Canada has suspended flights from the United Kingdom for 72 hours in the wake of the emergence of a new strain of COVID-19. UK officials described the strain as ‘out of control’ in their country, as both the UK and World Health Organization (WHO) say the new variant appears to spread much more quickly than other strains of the coronavirus. With the announcement, effective midnight Sunday Dec. 20, Canada joined multiple countries from around the world in restricting travel from the UK while experts study the new variant.
Canada’s Minister for Safety, Bill Blair, tweeted:
“We are taking this important action to protect Canadians and to keep our communities safe. These measures have been imposed following advice from public health officials. The restrictions will initially be in place for 72 hrs, after which time they could be extended or enhanced.”
It is reported that travellers who arrived from the UK shortly before the suspension became effective were subject to enhanced secondary screenings, including increased scrutiny of quarantine plans. Passengers who arrived recently from the United Kingdom will also receive additional direction from the Government of Canada.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has published the following quick facts on its website:
- While no cases linked to this new strain have been identified in Canada, work continues to identify if this variant is present or has been previously observed in Canada. The Canadian and global medical, public health and research community are actively evaluating mutations to better understand the potential implications in terms of transmission, clinical presentation, and vaccine development.
- The Government of Canada contributed $40 million to support the creation of the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) to help understand the genetic variations of the virus as it evolves.
- Canadians are advised to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada and avoid all cruise ship travel until further notice. Canada’s official global advisory, cruise ship advisory and pandemic COVID-19 travel health notice are still in effect.
It also noted that genetic variation of viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19 is to be expected and have been previously observed in parts of the world this year. While early data suggest that the United Kingdom variant may be more transmissible, to date there is no evidence that the mutations have any impact on symptom severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy.
Canada-US border closure extended to January 21
Meanwhile the government also announced that the Canada-U.S. border will be closed to non-essential travel for another 30 days and until January 21. This marks the ninth time that Canada has extended restrictions on travellers coming from the U.S. after restrictions on travel for tourism, recreation and leisure first went into effect on March 21, 2020.
The U.S. continues to be ravaged by COVID-19, and Canada is battling a second wave of the pandemic across the country.
Canada currently has exemptions in place for the following people, provided they are travelling for a non-discretionary reason.
- Seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers.
- International students attending a Designated Learning Institution with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan.
- Permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 18, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada.
- Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are also exempt if entering to be with an immediate family member for at least 15 days.
- Extended family members of citizens and permanent residents, plus foreign nationals travelling on compassionate grounds.