Coronavirus updates: Canada extends ban on most foreign travellers to at least July 31

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Coronavirus Canada Updates: No new case of COVID-19 reported in Nova Scotia on Thursday
Coronavirus Canada Updates: No new case of COVID-19 reported in Nova Scotia on Thursday

Ottawa has extended for at least another month a sweeping travel ban that bars entry to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

The order, which was set to expire tonight, “has been extended until July 31 for public health reasons,” Rebecca Purdy, spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency.

The order — one of a set of extraordinary new measures introduced on March 16 to stop the spread of COVID-19 — bans most foreign nationals from entering Canada if they arrive from a foreign country other than the U.S. (There are limited exceptions for air crew, diplomats and immediate family members of citizens. Some seasonal workers, caregivers and international students are also exempt.)

The previous order-in-council — a cabinet decision made without going before Parliament — was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Officials confirm the government will maintain the order barring foreign nationals from entering Canada at this time, instead of modifying the order to reopen the border to certain countries — those with low infection rates or those allowing Canadian tourists to visit, for example.

A separate order prohibits non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. and remains in effect until July 21; it was extended earlier this month. Under this order, essential workers, such as truckers and health workers, are allowed to cross the border.

Tuesday’s decision by Ottawa to continue banning foreign nationals from entering Canada comes after the European Union agreed to allow some tourists to enter the EU beginning tomorrow. Canada is among the 15 countries on the EU’s so-called “safe” list.

The EU said Tuesday it expects countries on that list to lift any bans they might have in place on European travellers.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed back against pressure to relax the ban on international travellers, arguing that moving too quickly could spark a second wave of the coronavirus. “We are going to be very, very careful about when and how we start reopening international borders,” Trudeau said at a briefing on June 22.

“I understand how difficult this is and how frustrating this is for some people, but we know that reopening too quickly or carelessly would lead us to a resurgence that might well force us to go back into lockdown, to shut down the economy once again, and nobody wants that.”

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