Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will close its border to all who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents to slow spread of COVID-19.
Trudeau made the announcement from the steps of Rideau cottage in Ottawa Monday, as he is in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie was diagnosed with COVID-19 following a trip to the U.K.
Canada recorded at least 324 confirmed cases as of Monday morning, with a further 17 presumptive ones. Of those confirmed cases, B.C. has 103. Four people have died in Canada, all of them in B.C.
The Prime Minister said citizens of U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, as well as commerce, trade will be allowed in and out of the country.
As of Wednesday, the only airports in the country accepting international flights will be Vancouver International Airport, Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport and Calgary International Airport.
Trudeau said all Canadians currently abroad should return home by commercial means, while flights are still running.
“We can still slow the spread of this virus… but that window is closing,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau defended the travel ban coming in Monday, when both he and top health officials have dismissed it before.
“Now is the time to take this particular step. It is a significant step… but it is the right step to be taking today, he said, noting recommendations from health officials have changed.
Trudeau said his government is in close communication with the U.S. government and hinted the exception for American citizens crossing the borders could change soon.
“We recognize the level of integration of our two economies… puts the U.S. in a separate category,” he said, citing the economic integration of the two countries as to why Americans will continue to be allowed in.
Anyone returning to the country must still self-isolate for 14 days.
For those in Canada, Trudeau said although life did not need to shut down completely, careful precautions must be taken.
“All Canadians, as much as possible, should stay home.”
— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) March 16, 2020
More to come.