Winter Update: Canada and COVID-19
anadian borders remain soon open to most travelers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Since March 16, Canada’s borders have been closed to all but deemed-essential travelers in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Such “essential services”, are individuals who, by definition of their occupation, provide services that both countries have come to rely on, are exempted from the ban. These include diplomats and airline crew members. As well, the European Union has included Canada (but not the USA) in its recently-announced ‘bubble’ of countries whose inbound and outbound flights can connect with the EU.
- Since April 18, 2020, the U.S. – Canada border has been, and remains, closed;
- The U.S. has suspended all immigration to the United States, with many essential details missing or vague.
Fall COVID surge in Canada
Canada’s summer efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus were encouraging, but the autumn and winter resurgence of COVID-19 is severe in Canada, just as it is throughout the world. Canadian provinces are struggling with a sharp autumn and winter increase in cases of COVID-19. The rapid spread of the virus in seniors residences and long-term care facilities from earlier in 2020 remains a concern. Atlantic Canada’s COVID-19 control efforts have been a notable success. The growth in COVID-19 cases in western Canada is, per-capita, sharper than in Quebec and Ontario, where case volumes have also soared above levels seen earlier in 2020. Ontario and Quebec are currently under ‘stay-home’ orders. Many communities have tightened restrictions on businesses that bring people together indoors, and have got stricter in directives to gatherings in-home.
- Atlantic Canada opened as a ‘regional bubble’ in July. Into 2021, Atlantic Canada’s four provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick maintain a low incidence of both new COVID-19 cases and deaths. However, all four Atlantic provinces are very cautious about admitting outsiders – even other Canadians – and require stringent quarantines;
- The rate of new cases and deaths in Ontario and Quebec has risen sharply since the summer of 2020. In Ontario, the majority of cases remain focused in the Toronto area, Ottawa, Peel Region and other areas north and west of Toronto;
- The four western Canadian provinces are grappling with soaring volumes of COVID-19 cases.
Check the Globe and Mail web site for up-to-date graphs and case numbers in Canada and the provinces and territories.
Public, sporting, business, conference and entertainment events all remain cancelled. Canadians can shop if they wear masks and maintain social distance. Gatherings of many types, including church services, had been operating at reduced capacity with masks and social distance. Most such gatherings are again virtual. Nearly all retail establishments require shoppers, clients and patrons to use hand sanitizers and wear masks as they re-open, or remain open. Masks are now mandatory throughout Quebec outside the home environment.
What does this mean to me?
All travelers, including Canadians returning from abroad, must self-isolate for at least 14 days once back in Canada. The European Union had re-opened, with its defined safe ‘bubble’ including Canada. Europe has again restricted travel as the continent grapples with its own strong second wave of the corona virus.
If you are working with us on applying for any type of visa or sponsorship, Upper Canada Immigration will continue to work on your case without interruption. If you have been granted a TRV (visitor visa) you will not be able to come to Canada as a visitor until the ban has been lifted.
If you have been granted a permanent residence visa and have not booked your ticket to “land” in Canada, please delay your arrival in Canada to a time when you know things are closer to normal. There are only four international airports open for international flights: Pearson International in Toronto; Pierre Elliot Trudeau International in Montreal; Vancouver International and Calgary International. The line-ups and testing upon arrival will be long and rigorous. As noted above, every international traveler, Canadian or not, must self-quarantine for at least two weeks.
Who cannot board Canada-bound flights
Canada’s Ministry of Transportation issued an Interim Order on who can and cannot board flights bound for Canada. The rules clarify how to deal with significant risk, direct or indirect to aviation safety or to the safety of the public:
- Persons who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents may not board an airline flight to come to Canada. This includes stateless persons;
- Every air carrier must conduct, at the boarding gate, a health check of every person prior to their boarding an aircraft for a flight to Canada;
- Air carriers may not allow persons to board if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 in their answers to questions, or in the air carrier’s observation. Passengers will be refused permission to board Canada-bound aircraft if they say they have COVID-19, or if they refuse to answer questions.
When COVID-19 ends
In Canada, there is cause for hope that the difficult COVID-19 pandemic will end. Canada is on track to look for as many as one million new immigrants to the country in the next three years. We continue to work from home, and use WhatsApp, Zoom and other technology to meet virtually with clients. If you’re thinking about Canada, get the process started early. Now is the time! Some of our clients have already got their coveted Invitation to Apply during the COVID-19 period.
If you’re serious about coming to Canada, tell us about yourself by filling out this secure form. Let’s see if there is a viable pathway for you to continue life in Canada.