Canada Closes Borders Due to COVID-19 Crisis: Only Canadian Citizens, Canadian Permanent Residents and U.S. Citizens Will be Permitted Entry

NOTE: Because the COVID-19 situation is dynamic, with new governmental measures each day, employers should consult with counsel for the latest developments and updated guidance on this topic.

On March 16, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that effective 12 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, only Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents, their close family members, diplomats and U.S. citizens will be permitted to enter Canada. The borders will be closed for all other nationalities.  This includes work permit holders, study permit holders and visitor record holders.

Furthermore, if Canadians returning to Canada are not well and show symptoms of the virus at plane boarding, they will not be allowed to board. There is also an expectation that all travellers returning from any international destination, including the United States, self-isolate for 14 days, although this is not a mandatory measure.

Employers should consider sending their employees in Canada a notification restricting travel outside Canada for both work-related and personal reasons. Employees should be aware that the situation is ever-evolving and that if they leave the country, then they may not be permitted to re-enter Canada. Furthermore, anyone who travels abroad should undertake a 14-day self-isolation period.

Anyone who is currently abroad who is not a Canadian citizen/ permanent resident or U.S. citizen should immediately arrange their return travel to Canada to ensure arrival in Canada prior to 12 p.m. on March 18, 2020. This includes all work permit holders.  In fact, all Canadian citizens/ permanent residents and U.S. citizens abroad who ordinarily reside in Canada should immediately return to Canada as the travel restrictions are ever-evolving and the situation may change such that the borders could close entirely.

Any international or cross-border business travel is strongly discouraged at this time.  From a practical perspective, even if a U.S. citizen business traveller were to visit Canada, there may be very limited benefit to the trip / ability to attend business meetings given the strong advisory to self-isolate for 14 days immediately after entry.

We will continue to provide updates as the situation unfolds. 

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.