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.
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.
The Government of Canada has announced that effective midnight tonight (12:01 a.m. on March 26, 2020) all travelers to Canada will be subject to a mandatory 14-day isolation period pursuant to the Quarantine Act. This directive covers all Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreigners entering Canada by air or land.
The only exemption will apply to essential workers. While “essential workers” are not fully defined, the Government specifically referenced truck drivers as well as pilots and aircrew. Only those individuals related to the supply of essential services in the supply chain would qualify. It will be up to the individual Canada Border Services Agency officer to determine whether or not the traveler is an essential worker. Presumably the threshold will be set very high to qualify.
Every traveler entering Canada will be asked to provide their Canadian contact details upon entry. The Government has indicated that each traveler will be contacted by the public health agency throughout the isolation period to ensure compliance. If a traveler is not able to provide a secure residence in which they can self-isolate, which would not put vulnerable people at risk, public health authorities will make arrangements for their isolation.
The Government emphasized that it is merely making mandatory in law a measure that is already in place. This step will contribute to providing Canadians a greater sense of safety and security.
Violations of the Quarantine Act can result in fines and potential jail terms. The specifics of the penalties have not yet been released, and should be announced shortly.
Again, we wish to emphasize that all travelers to Canada, regardless of nationality, destination abroad or duration abroad, will be subject to the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period.