Canada extends ban on international travellers

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Canada on Friday extended a restriction on non-essential international entries until the end of November as Covid-19 cases rise, while easing quarantine rules for some cut-off Canada-US border communities.

The travel ban has been in force since mid-March, while Ottawa and Washington have a separate arrangement prohibiting non-essential travel between their two countries set to expire one week earlier.

Travellers allowed into Canada despite the ban – including essential workers, students, and spouses, children, parents or guardians of Canadian citizens — must still quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

But Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said “some practical adjustments” to the rule would be made to allow residents of a few outlier communities to cross the border to access necessities such as food and medical care without having to self-isolate after each trip.

He named specifically Campobello Island in New Brunswick; Stewart, British Columbia; Northwest Angle, Minnesota; and Hyder, Alaska – all cut off from their respective countries due to border irregularities, such as panhandles.

The government will also allow exemptions for a pilot project with the province of Alberta on alternatives to quarantines.

Participants are tested for Covid-19 infection at the border or after landing at the Calgary airport, and if the result comes back negative, they may end their quarantine early so long as they commit to getting a second test about a week later at a local pharmacy.

They must also monitor for symptoms, take precautions such as wearing masks in public and avoid visiting high-risk groups.

Travel between Canada and the United States usually sees 400,000 border crossings per day, but trips have fallen off to a trickle since the pandemic restrictions were put in place.

Canada this week hit a grim milestone, recording more than 10,000 Covid-19 deaths while the US crept closer to 230,000.