Feds launch mandatory 14-day quarantine for all returning travellers

Coronavirus outbreak:

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the government is invoking the Quarantine Act to force returning travellers to self-isolate.

In Newfoundland, a 53-year-old woman became the first person in Canada to be arrested for violating an order to self-isolate for 14 days after returning from a trip, under a provincial public health emergency law, police told AFP.

The health minister said worldwide travellers who display symptoms of COVID-19 will be told they are not allowed to take public transportation to their place of isolation.

Hadju added, "This new measure will provide the clarity for those re-entering the country about the essential need to self-isolate".

The Quarantine Act received royal assent back in 2005 and it is meant to protect public health by taking measures to prevent the spread of diseases.

The isolation periods will be required under the Quarantine Act and will start at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

Anyone returning to Canada from overseas - even if it's just across the Canada-U.S. border - will now have to self-quarantine at home or face the consequences.

A new order placed by the federal government makes self-isolation mandatory for anyone entering Canada, and with it comes fines along with possible jail time for failure to comply.

Freeland said the issue of mandatory quarantines was debated at length during the Monday meeting of the cabinet coronavirus committee.

While the government has been urging travellers returning to Canada to enter into a two-week self-isolation for weeks, the new measure will make it illegal to disobey.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced his government will offer $2,000 Canadian (US$1,395) a month, for the next four months, for workers who lose their income as a result of the pandemic. The Canada-U.S. border has also been closed to all non-essential travel.

Asked about the possibility of more stringent screening measures at the border, Freeland called the situation "fluid and evolving" and said federal officials are monitoring the situation around the world "by the hour".

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