OTTAWA -- The Canadian government has extended the current ban on most international travellers until July 31.

The federal government first shut the border to non-Canadian citizens, with limited exceptions, to limit the spread of COVID-19 in mid-March. The extension on the foreign travel ban was made through a federal order recommended by Health Minister Patty Hajdu, dated June 29.

The ban allows permanent Canadian residents, the immediate family members of Canadian citizens, as well as diplomats and air crews, to come into Canada, though anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 will still not be allowed to enter Canada.

“The introduction or spread of the disease would pose an imminent and severe risk to public health in Canada, the entry of persons into Canada who have recently been in a foreign country may introduce or contribute to the spread of the disease in Canada, and no reasonable alternatives to prevent the introduction or spread of the disease are available,” reads the government’s reasoning for the ongoing ban, in part. 

This ban exempts the United States, which entered into a separate agreement with Canada shortly after the halt on all other foreign travel. The U.S. travel restrictions have been renewed until July 21 at least, meaning that all discretionary travel remains prohibited. 

“To protect Canadians and to ease the potential burden non-essential travellers could place on our health care system and its frontline workers, the CBSA has implemented travel restrictions across all ports of entry in all modes of transportation… All travel of an optional or discretionary nature, including tourism and recreation, is covered by these measures,” said Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson Rebecca Purdy in an email.

This decision to extend the ban comes after the European Union agreed to a set of recommendations that will allow travellers from other nations, including Canada, to visit EU countries. The United States did not make the list of safe countries. 

Last week Global Affairs Canada issued a reminder to Canadians that despite some countries partially reopening their borders, the national advice remains to avoid all non-essential travel outside of the country. 

The mandatory 14-day self-isolation for any non-essential worker entering Canada remains in effect, as do all other aspects of the Quarantine Act. 

To help Canadians stuck abroad, the government offered travellers an emergency loan of up to $5,000 to get home, and after chartering flights to repatriate stranded Canadians the department says the “final few” flights will be scheduled in the coming weeks, with no further trips planned.