Canada on Wednesday implemented mandatory self-isolation for people arriving in the nation.
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland initially said that the system would begin at midnight on Wednesday and require 14 days of isolation, but several hours later, government officials said the quarantine order had been in effect for more than 12 hours.
“It will be a legal obligation for people entering Canada from outside Canada,” Freeland said. “Essential workers are excluded.”
Penalties would be announced later, she said.
More than 1 million Canadians and permanent residents returned to the nation between March 14 and Friday last week, the Canada Border Services Agency said.
Truck drivers and healthcare workers crossing the border are exempted under the nation’s Quarantine Act, and Canada and the US had already closed their common border for all nonessential travel.
Canada relies on cross border trade for essential goods such as food and medicine.
People who have returned should be self-isolating at home, Freeland said, adding that it is critical to protect the health of Canadians and ultimately to ensure that the nation’s has as rapid an economic recovery as possible.
“If we can flatten the curve, then we can go back to normal life more quickly,” she said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that his government would offer C$2,000 (US$1,395) per month, over the next four months, for workers who lose their income as a result of the pandemic.
Canada is facing a once-in-a-generation challenge, Trudeau said, adding that 1 million Canadians applied for employment insurance in a week.
“Help is on the way,” Trudeau said, adding that the new benefit is available to any Canadian who loses their job because of COVID-19, whether they are full-time, contract or self-employed.
The benefit also covers a person who is sick or quarantined, or looking after someone sick, he added.
Workers still employed but not receiving income because of the crisis are also eligible.
He said that his government would also implement long-promised tax credits for newspapers, where they can claim on up to 25 percent of wages.
Trudeau made the remarks outside his residence, where he is in isolation after his wife tested positive for the virus.
He says his wife is doing “much, much better,” and that he and his children have no symptoms.
Canada is testing 10,000 people a day and has tested more than 142,000 people.
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