Only 8 charges, 130 tickets issued so far to travellers who broke Canada’s quarantine rules

TORONTO — Although more than 40,000 people entering or returning to Canada during the pandemic have had to be reminded directly by police to quarantine, only 130 tickets and eight charges have been issued in connection with breaking travel requirements.

A press release from the federal government issued Tuesday stated that more than 4,600 calls are made on a daily basis to check in with those who have arrived to Canada from abroad and are in the midst of their mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“When needed, cases are referred to law enforcement,” the release said.

Almost 99 per cent of interactions between police and travellers into Canada have “resulted in compliance by travellers.

“However, in a minority of cases, verbal warnings (185), written warnings (20), tickets (130), and charges (8) have been issued,” the release said.

Those who are charged and convicted of failure to comply with the Quarantine Act could pay fines of up to $750,000, and/or face up to six months in jail.

Canada’s travel restrictions have done what they intended to, according to the government. Since March, there has been a 90 per cent decrease in travel volumes at airports compared to 2019.

As a result, only around two per cent of COVID-19 cases in Canada “have originated from travel outside the country,” the release said.

When foreign nationals who are permitted to enter the country and Canadians returning from outside of the country first arrive in Canada, they are required to confirm their quarantine plans. More than 180 public health officers have been deployed at points of entry across the country.

Canada’s 14-day mandatory quarantine for travellers is also one of the strictest mandatory quarantines for global travellers, the government says, as some countries or regions have switched to shorter periods of time such as 10 or seven days.

Several pilot projects have looked at whether a shorter quarantine is feasible in Canada for those who arrive by airplane, with the use of rapid testing, but the 14-day quarantine remains mandatory for the time being, with exceptions for specific workers.

Currently, flights from the U.K. have been suspended until Jan. 6 due to the discovery of a new coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. Cases have since been found in Canada and several other countries as well.

Travel restrictions haven’t discouraged everyone from jetting around. Despite restrictions, some people — mostly Americans — are still attempting to enter Canada for tourism. Between March 22 and Oct 2 of this year, more than 22,000 foreign nationals were turned away from entering Canada by land, air or water, 87 per cent of them from the U.S.

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