Pandemic COVID-19 all countries: avoid non-essential travel outside Canada - Updated April 19, 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak is now a global issue, and has been declared to be a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). (March 14, 2020)


The Public Health Agency of Canada is advising travellers to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.


Many countries are reporting community or widespread transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, and there is the possibility that the virus could also be present in countries that may not have the capacity to detect or contain the virus.


As foreign governments implement strict travel restrictions and international transportation options continue to become less available, you may have difficulty returning to Canada or may be unable to do so. Local authorities may impose control measures suddenly, including movement restrictions such as quarantine. In some countries, travellers may have limited access to timely and appropriate health care should they become ill.


The Government of Canada's Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act requires persons entering Canada by air, sea or land to isolate for 14 days if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or to quarantine themselves for 14 days if they are asymptomatic to limit the spread of COVID-19.


On April 15, 2020, an update to the Order was issued.


Travel to Canada is also currently being restricted for all foreign nationals coming from any country. These new restrictions prohibit foreign nationals, including U.S. nationals, from entering Canada for non-essential travel. Exemptions to the prohibition exist for certain groups of foreign nationals, for example, temporary foreign workers, some students, and persons delivering urgent medical supplies, as long as they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.  


If you must travel, please visit the Government of Canada's travel advice and advisories page for your destination(s) regularly to verify travel health recommendations and safety and security information.


About coronaviruses


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses. Some coronaviruses can cause no or mild illness, like the common cold, but other coronaviruses can cause severe illness, like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).


Some human coronaviruses spread easily between people, while others do not.


Recent studies provide evidence that transmission of the virus causing COVID-19 can happen from infected people, before they develop symptoms. There is also evidence that some infected people who never develop symptoms are able to transmit the virus.

Symptoms, similar to a cold or flu, may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.


Symptoms have included:

  • cough

  • fever

  • difficulty breathing

  • pneumonia in both lungs

Older people and those with a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition(s) are at a higher risk of developing severe disease.


There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illnesses will recover on their own.


Recommendations for travellers

If you must travel, take precautions against respiratory illnesses.


During your trip:

  • Avoid spending time in large crowds or crowded areas.

  • Avoid contact with sick people, especially if they have fever, cough, or difficulty breathing.

  • Be aware of the local situation and follow local public health advice.


All travellers are reminded to follow the health precautions listed below:

Wash your hands:

  • Wash your hands often with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available. It's a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel.

Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs.

  • If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards.

Wearing non-medical masks or face coverings:

  • Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering covering (e.g. constructed to completely cover the nose and mouth without gaping, and secured to the head by ties or ear loops) is an additional measure you can take to protect others around you, even if you have no symptoms. It can be useful for short periods of time, when physical distancing is not possible to maintain in public settings such as when grocery shopping or using public transit.

  • It is important to understand that non-medical masks have limitations and need to be used safely.

Monitor your health:

If you become sick when you are travelling and think you have COVID-19, avoid contact with others and follow local public health advice regarding seeking care.


Travelling back to Canada:


Air travellers are required to undergo a health check prior to boarding. In the event that the air operator observes that the air traveller has COVID-19 symptoms, the air operator will be required to refuse to board the person for travel for a period of 14 days or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms that the symptoms that the person is exhibiting are not related to the COVID-19 virus.


As of April 20, 2020, new measures requiring all air passengers to have a non-medical mask or face covering to cover their mouth and nose during travel will be in effect.

When travelling by air, travellers will be asked to cover their mouth and nose:

  • at Canadian airport screening checkpoints, where the screeners cannot always keep two metres of separation between themselves and the traveller;

  • when they cannot physically distance from others, or as directed by the airline employees; and

  • when directed to do so by a public health order or public health official.

Passengers on all flights departing or arriving at Canadian airports will also be required to demonstrate they have the necessary non-medical mask or face covering during the boarding process otherwise they will not be allowed to continue on their journey.


If you feel sick during your flight to Canada or upon arrival, you must inform the flight attendant or a Canada Border Services Agent.


If you do not have symptoms but believe you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19, report this information to a Canada Border Services Agent on arrival in Canada. This is required under the Quarantine Act. The Canada Border Services Agent will provide instructions for you to follow.


Upon return to Canada:


The Government of Canada has put in place an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travellers arriving in Canada in order to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.


Your compliance with this Order is subject to monitoring, verification and enforcement. Those in violation may face detention in a quarantine facility as well as fines and/or imprisonment.


Travellers require non-medical masks or face coverings upon arrival. Travellers can also wear homemade cloth face coverings. Masks or face coverings may be provided upon arrival as appropriate.


Upon arrival, every traveller will need to confirm that they have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine where they will have access to basic necessities, such as food and medication. Travellers will be expected to make plans for where they will isolate or quarantine in advance of arriving to Canada. Travellers who do not have an appropriate place in which to isolate or quarantine themselves must go to a place designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. These criteria are newly applied to asymptomatic travellers.


Travellers with symptoms: mandatory isolation


If you have recently returned to Canada and you have symptoms, you must ISOLATE. This is mandatory. If required, immediate medical attention will be provided upon arrival in Canada.


Mandatory isolation means you MUST:

  • go directly to the place where you will isolate, without delay, and stay there for 14 days from the date you arrived in Canada

  • wear an appropriate mask or facial covering, especially while in transit

  • practise physical distancing at all times

  • not take public transport, go to your place of isolation using private transportation only, such as your personal vehicle

  • not isolate in a place where you will have contact with vulnerable individuals, including those who have an underlying medical condition, compromised immune systems, or who are 65 years of age or older

  • stay INSIDE, and do not leave your place of isolation unless it's to seek medical attention

  • arrange for the necessities of life (e.g. food, medications, cleaning supplies) to be delivered to your place of isolation

  • not have visitors and limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children

If your symptoms get worse:

  • immediately call the public health authority to describe your symptoms and travel history

  • follow their instructions carefully


Travellers without symptoms: mandatory quarantine


If you have recently returned to Canada and you have no symptoms, you must QUARANTINE yourself. This is mandatory. You are at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others.


This means you MUST:

  • go directly to your place of quarantine, without delay, and stay there for 14 days from the date you arrived in Canada, or longer if you develop signs and symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to another person subject to the Order who has signs and symptoms of COVID-19

  • ensure you wear an appropriate mask or facial covering, especially while in transit

  • practise physical distancing at all times

  • go to your place of quarantine using private transportation, such as your personal vehicle, if possible

  • not quarantine in a place where you will have contact with vulnerable individuals, including those who have an underlying medical condition, compromised immune systems, or who are 65 years of age or older

  • stay at your place of quarantine, and do not leave unless it's to seek medical attention

  • not use public transportation (e.g. buses, taxis) while in quarantine

  • not have visitors and limit contact with others in the place of quarantine, including children and those who have not travelled nor been exposed to the virus

  • not go to school, work or any other public areas

  • arrange for the necessities of life (e.g. food, medications, cleaning supplies) to • be delivered to your place of quarantine

If you develop symptoms within 14 days:

  • isolate yourself from others

  • immediately call the public health authority to describe your symptoms and travel history

  • follow their instructions carefully

As the continued global movement of goods and people and the ongoing delivery of essential services will be important for Canada's response to COVID-19, there are some exemptions to the order to self-isolate for certain workers listed as an essential service.

Government of Canada novel coronavirus information line: 1-833-784-4397


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