On the same day Justin Trudeau warned more travel restrictions are coming, Ontario’s premier called for mandatory testing of all incoming international passengers at Canada’s airports as well as enforcing a temporary ban on direct flights from countries where new COVID-19 variants are detected.
Doug Ford laid out his demands during a visit to Toronto’s Pearson Airport on Tuesday, where he said the province’s voluntary and free border testing program had tested over 6,800 international travellers for COVID-19 since the launch on Jan. 6.
More than 140 tests have come back positive, which is a 2.6 per cent positivity rate.
The prime minister held court with the media in Ottawa ahead of the premier’s comments, and once again urged Canadians to heed federal public health guidance and avoid all non-essential travel, both in between provinces and abroad.
Speaking in French, Trudeau said the government is looking to improve measures already implemented because of the constantly evolving news of COVID-19 variants from other countries, and Canadians should expect an announcement very soon.
If the prime minister needs ideas, the premier was not short on proposals. Ford is calling on the federal government to impose a temporary travel ban on direct flights from countries where new variants of the virus are identified, such as Portugal and Brazil.
He said the Liberals should explore approaches that have been successful in countries like New Zealand such as isolation hotels, to ensure incoming travellers obey a 14-day minimum quarantine requirement.
“If you land in Toronto, or anywhere else in Canada for that matter, you need to be tested,” Ford added. “We need to lockdown.”
Recent data shows 1.8 per cent of all COVID cases are related to international travel.
The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020, with the latest extension set to expire on Feb. 21.