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Border exemptions introduced for families, students and compassionate reasons; Ontario will ‘pause’ social bubbles

COVID-19 In Canada
COVID-19 In Canada

Canada introduces exemptions to border restrictions

Beginning on Oct. 8, certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and people who want to come to Canada for compassionate reasons, will be able to enter the country.

Family members who qualify include:

  • Individuals in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least one year, who have physically spent time with each other, and these individuals’ dependent children

  • Non-dependent children (adult children who do not meet the definition of a dependent child in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations)

  • Grandchildren, grandparents and siblings (including half and step siblings)

Pre-arrival approval is required, with more details on the application process set to be revealed next week, and each individual must be staying in Canada for more than 15 days.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said individuals in an exclusive dating relationship must have been dating for a period of at least one year and are required submit a notarized declaration of their relationship status to relevant authorities.

Beginning on Oct. 20, international students who are studying at a designated learning institution, that has been approved by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID-19 readiness plan, will also be able to enter Canada.

Mendicino stressed that travellers should not make any travel plans until they have received all the necessary pre-arrival authorizations.

Anyone coming into Canada needs to following all the public health measures in place, including the 14-day quarantine requirement.

Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, said foreign nationals coming into Canada on compassionate grounds can apply for a “limited release” from the mandatory quarantine.

She explained these “very specific” situations include being with someone you love to say goodbye at the end of their life, or a funeral or end of life ceremony. This exemption will be allowed in coordination with provincial or territorial government and must be approved before arrival.

Hajdu stressed that the COVID-19 cases in Canada, at this point, are largely related to community transmission, not travel.

Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, specified that only about two per cent of cases in Canada are related to travel.

“That isn’t an argument for reducing our efforts at the border and rather, in fact, it’s evidence of the efficacy of the work that we have done, effectiveness of both the public health response…and the efforts of our border service officers,” he said.

“The robust travel restrictions we’ve put into place to protect the health and safety of Canadians remains in effect,” Mendocino stressed. “The pandemic is an ongoing threat and we need to continue to be cautious and restrictive about who can enter into Canada.”

“We recognize, however, that these restrictions shouldn’t keep loved ones apart.”

Canada ‘scaling up’ federal public health presence at border

Blair confirmed Friday that the federal government is “dramatically scaling up” public health presence at the Canadian border to cover 36 points of entry, which