Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says Canada’s international and U.S. border restrictions will be in place for another month, at least.
In a pair of announcements made Tuesday, Blair said that Canadian and U.S. officials have agreed to keep the border between the two countries closed to non-essential travel, as well as the existing restrictions on non-U.S. international travel into Canada will be extended until May 21.
As has been the case every month since the border measures went into place in March 2020, the restrictions on discretionary and non-essential travel have been extended, and more recently expanded, citing the ongoing health risks.
“As cases rise and variants of concern continue to emerge across the country, we will continue to do what it takes-for as long as it takes-to keep Canadians safe,” Blair said in a tweet.
Also extended until May 21 are testing and quarantine requirements for those entering Canada via air, including minimum stays in quarantine hotels.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department updated its travel guidance for Canada on Tuesday, listing it at "Level 4: Do Not Travel."
Similar charges were made to the American guidance for approximately 80 per cent of all countries, as the State Department shifted its framework to match that of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC has had Canada at its highest travel warning level since last October.
As COVID-19 variants continue to surge throughout the country, namely in Western Canada, the federal government has faced criticism for not enforcing stricter border control measures.
Asked on Monday why Canada is still allowing in flights from countries with high rates of variants, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the restrictions imposed thus far have been “extremely effective” in stopping outbreaks caused by travel, but their approach remains flexible.
“We have been very firm and vigilant on these measures, but of course, as I always say, we are continuing to look at more and I have asked our officials to look carefully at for example what the U.K. has done very recently suspending flights from India,” he said.
According to a statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada sent to CTVNews.ca, the government has spent $144.7 million on enhanced border measures and isolation sites between April 1, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021. This includes the creation of federal quarantine sites, enhanced compliance and enforcement resources, isolation sites in cities and surveillance programs at points of entry.
With files from CTV News' Ryan Flanagan & Sarah Turnbull