Canada closes border to 'all foreign nationals' except Americans, will block even citizens with symptoms

Darrell Etherington

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a number of additional measures being taken at a federal level in Canada to prevent further spread of the coronavirus within the country. The most extreme is that Canada is closing its borders to non-citizens and anyone not holding permanent residence status, with the exception of U.S. citizens, though this won't apply to commercial freight and cargo transportation necessary for doing business.

In addition to this border closure, all travelers, including Canadian citizens, who are exhibiting symptoms will be denied access when boarding flights, Trudeau said during a press conference on Monday.

"Let me be clear, if you're abroad, you should come home. If you've just arrived, you must self-isolate for 14 days," he said to close the conference, and added that even Canadians at home without symptoms should attempt to isolate and stay away from others as much as possible.

Trudeau was asked repeatedly what reasoning the Canadian government had for excluding U.S. citizens from this broad ban, especially given the ramp in cases in the country. He failed to really provide a substantive answer to the question, repeating often that the country's strategy was based on what's best for ensuring the health of its citizens at any given point, and that the strategy was evolving with new measures possibly being introduced frequently.

He did say that part of the reasoning for keeping the borders open to Americans was the integrated nature of the countries' two economies, and seemed to indicate that there was still a possibility of an extension of the ban to U.S. citizens in the future. "We're not closing the door to any measure, everything is on the table," he said.

The restrictions also don't cover airline crew, as well as individuals working in a commercial capacity like truck drivers. Trudeau also announced that federal financial support would be available to Canadians looking to make it home from abroad, or to ensure their safety abroad if they're not able to return because they're exhibiting symptoms or otherwise unable to travel because of international border closures.