Canada’s international travel restrictions in place due to coronavirus have been extended until January 21, 2021, while international amateur athletes will have their applications to enter the country considered in a change to the rules.
The extension means restrictions will have been in place for 10 months as countries all over the world, including Canada, battle a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The extension to January 21 bring the date into line with the rolling monthly closure of the Canada-U.S. border, which currently expires on December 21, 2020, but is expected to be extended.
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“The ability to align US and international travel extension dates … will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, US and international travellers,” a Public Safety Canada statement said.
Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair said: “Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is my most important responsibility.
“We have introduced a number of policies to keep Canadians safe but must remain flexible and adapt to the evolving COVID-19 situation while keeping your health as our top priority.”
Citizens and permanent residents, plus their immediate and extended family members, are exempt from travel restrictions.
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 who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020. More international students will be allowed to travel from October 20 under a new exemption.
- 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.
Anyone entering Canada is required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Canada and provide border officers with a viable quarantine plan.
Canada Immigration numbers remained low in September, as travel restrictions continued to dramatically impact permanent resident arrivals.
The 15,000 newcomers arriving in September means Canada welcomed just over 40,000 in the third quarter, slightly more than the previous quarter but less than half of the 104,000 arrivals in the same period of 2019.
In the first nine months of 2020, Canada saw 143,465 new permanent residents arrive, compared to 263,945 in 2019.
In a glimmer of recovery, September saw the second-highest number of arrivals for a complete month since COVID-19 took a grip in Canada midway through March.
New ‘arrivals’ can either be candidates already in Canada transitioning from a temporary status or those from overseas covered by an exemption to travel restrictions.
Despite the current restrictions and the impact they are having, Ottawa recently announced its plan to significantly increase immigration from 2021 to kickstart the economic recovery from the pandemic.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told parliament at the end of October that immigration levels would increase to more than 400,000 in 2021, and further over the next two years.
Recent news on the successful development of two coronavirus vaccines in the US means that a picture is beginning to develop when Canada can begin to loosen travel restrictions.
Given the predictions being made by vaccine experts, it seems likely to be at least the second half of 2021 before any loosening of restrictions can take place.