Liberal Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his government will close the country's borders to non-Canadians, with a few exceptions, in response to the global outbreak of coronavirus.
"We will be denying entry to Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents," Trudeau explained at a Monday afternoon news conference while announcing the country's latest steps to address the global disease outbreak. The prime minister followed up by saying that the decision would include "some designated exceptions, including air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and — at this time — U.S. citizens."
The Canadian leader went on to announce that that only four of the country's airports would accept international flights starting Wednesday. For now, he added, Canadian domestic flights as well as those from the U.S., the Caribbean and Mexico would not be affected.
Furthermore, Trudeau said that airlines would be required to screen incoming passengers for symptoms of the virus, including the country's citizens and permanent residents.
"Anyone who has symptoms will not be able to come to Canada," the prime minister explained. "I know this news will spark concern among Canadians traveling abroad; I want to assure you that our government will not leave you unsupported."
Trudeau went on to say that the government would set up a "support program" for asymptomatic Canadians who needed to get back home.
"Canadian travelers will be able to get financial assistance to help them with the costs of returning home or temporarily covering their basic needs while they wait to come back to Canada," the prime minister announced.
Monday's announcement came not too long after the government urged Canadians traveling abroad to look at ways to return home over the weekend.
"New restrictions could be imposed, and could severely disrupt Canadians' travel plans," a Saturday statement from Global Affairs Canada said, according to the Canadian Press. "Canadians currently outside the country should find out what commercial options are still available and consider returning to Canada earlier than planned if these options are becoming more limited."
"Let me be clear," Trudeau said during Monday's announcement: "If you are abroad, it's time for you to home. If you have just arrived, you must self-isolate for 14 days."
The prime minister also admitted that announced measures were "far-reaching" and said they were made necessary by "exception circumstances." He added that the announcement was "based on the latest available science and advice from our world-class health professionals" and that "these measures will help save lives."
As of Monday morning, Canada had reported 324 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Last week, Trudeau's wife, Sophie, tested positive for the virus after returning from a speaking engagement in the United Kingdom.
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