Despite provinces and territories lifting most of their pandemic restrictions, including mask mandates, the federal government still requires that travelers arriving in Canada wear a mask for two weeks.
Current federal government regulations state that travelers, including children five years of age and older, coming to Canada must wear a “well-made and well-fitting mask” for 14 days in public indoor and outdoor spaces .
Arriving travelers must keep a list of close contacts and places visited, as well as copies of their proof of vaccination, in accordance with the government website listing requirements for vaccinated travelers.
In cases where federal regulations differ from provincial or regional ones, travelers must follow strict rules, the federal government says.
Dr. Peter Juni, Scientific Director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Wednesday that he does not believe the rule is necessary at this stage in the pandemic.
Not only did the rule make sense when it comes to wearing a mask outside, unless in a crowded setting, he said, there are also various sub-versions of the highly contagious Omicron variant that are now in effect around the world.
“I don’t think there will be any difference in the situation we are in through different masking behavior for travelers arriving internationally compared to people here,” he said.
Juni has “serious doubts” about whether passengers will also follow this rule.
A more reasonable option, he said, would be to have passengers take a rapid test on the day of their arrival and 24 hours later, in the back of the throat and inside the nose, with perhaps two days to record results and monitor symptoms. Masking in indoor places.
“It would be a workable solution from my point of view that could be done,” he said. “Alternatively, omit the requirement altogether for now.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada said that all travelers entering Canada “must follow emergency orders under the Federal Quarantine Act to limit the spread of COVID-19 and variants in Canada.” should.”
“Mask wearing is still effective because, when layered with other recommended public health measures, a well-manufactured, well-fitting and properly worn mask can prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the spokesperson said. could help prevent that,” the spokesperson said.
People who show signs and symptoms, or receive a positive COVID-19 test result, are required to report to the Public Health Agency of Canada within 24 hours and isolate for 10 days, regardless of provincial or territorial isolation. shorten the duration.
A federal spokesperson also referred to CTVNews.ca about the consequences of not complying with the Quarantine Act, which could include potential imprisonment and fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A web page detailing those results says that the Public Health Agency of Canada works with the RCMP, as well as local and provincial police services, to ensure that passengers are compliant and “as they are best suited.” Let’s see” will follow.
“The health and safety of all Canadians has been and will be the priority of the Government of Canada,” the spokesman said.
“During this pandemic, science has been the cornerstone of its response and has guided its decision-making, its actions, and its guidance for Canadians, to limit the spread of COVID-19 in communities.”
Provinces, territories ease restrictions
Several provinces have ended their mask mandates in most settings, including Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Quebec has extended its mask mandate until at least April 30, while Prince Edward Island requires masks until April 28.
Saskatchewan does not currently have any COVID-related public health orders in effect.
Territories have also withdrawn most, or all, of their mask mandates.
On April 1, the federal government eased testing requirements for international travel, including removing the negative pre-admission COVID-19 test requirement for fully vaccinated passengers, although passengers are required to undergo random PCR tests at airports. can be subjected to.
In the United States, a federal judge in Florida this week struck down a national mask mandate from the Transportation Security Administration, which applies to airplanes, airports, taxis and other mass transit.
The judge ruled that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its authority and did not follow proper rule-making procedures when it issued the original health order that was based on the TSA directive.
In response to the court’s decision, the TSA announced that it would no longer implement its directive. The CDC previously extended its mask order through May 3.
However, the ruling allows airlines and other mass transit to keep mask rules if they choose to.
Meanwhile in Canada, when traveling by air or rail, passengers must wear a mask throughout their journey.
When asked about the US court’s decision on Tuesday, Transportation Minister Omar Alghbra did not comment directly, but said Canada’s mask regulation is based on expert advice and data.
“It has been proven that masks prevent or reduce the transmission of COVID,” he said.
However, on Wednesday the US Justice Department announced that it would appeal the court’s decision if the CDC concludes that the order is necessary for public health.
“I think it would be fair to put this requirement only for public transport and that certainly includes airplanes and crowded places like airports,” Juni said.
“From an epidemiological point of view, this decision in court did not make any real sense.”
He said that about five percent of Ontario’s population has an active COVID-19 infection, based on factors such as wastewater data, on which researchers have been increasingly in recent weeks to estimate the daily COVID-19 case count. have trusted.
“What this means is that it makes perfect sense to wear a mask for a few more weeks in public indoor spaces, regardless of travel, and have nothing to do with travel,” Juni said.
With files from CTV News