Doug Ford welcomes new COVID-19 travel restrictions, says further discussions with federal

Ontario Premier Doug Ford thanked the federal government for implementing the new travel restrictions in an effort to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and said there would be more discussions about whether may extend the new testing rules to travelers from the United States.

Ford made the remarks at an unrelated press conference in Mississauga on Wednesday morning.

Several cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in Ontario, and Ford said that while it is “a cause for concern” it is “not a cause for panic”.

“The more cases we have entering our country each day, the more time we have to learn and prepare,” said Ford.

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“So the best we can do right now is strengthen our borders. Our best defense is to keep this variant out of our country. We welcome action from the federal government and I would like to thank the federal government for its action thus far.

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“We begged them last week to act quickly and decisively on the borders and they did.”

In a statement last Friday, Ford called on the federal government to issue a travel ban for countries initially affected by the Omicron variant, and the federal government followed suit just hours later.

On Tuesday, it extended that ban to three other countries.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said foreign nationals from Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt who have been to these countries in the past two weeks will not be able to enter Canada. This adds to the seven other African countries banned by Canada on Friday: South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini.

Click to play video: 'Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria added to Canada's travel ban amid more restrictions'

Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria have added to Canada’s travel ban amid more restrictions

Egypt, Malawi and Nigeria have added to Canada’s travel ban amid more restrictions

Canadians and permanent residents, as well as all those with the right to return to Canada, who have transited through these countries in the past two weeks, will be required to isolate, check at the airport and await test results. before departure. , said Duclos.

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It was also announced that all people taking a plane into Canada – excluding those arriving from the US – will have to be tested at the airport they arrive at and quarantined until they receive a negative result. That measure would apply to all travelers, regardless of immunization status.

In its statement last week, Ford also called for in-destination testing.

He also said he has advised the province’s chief medical officer and Public Health Ontario to “immediately do extensive surveillance” and update the plan to “make sure we’re ready for any outcome.” .

The Omicron variant has now been detected in many countries around the world, including the United States.

Ford was asked if he supported extending the new testing rules to people from the United States.

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“I will always support whatever can be prudent to prevent this variant from entering our country. So again we will discuss with the federal government. That is their jurisdiction, not ours,” said Ford.

“They work cooperatively with all the provinces and territories and I have always followed the path of caution as I think people have seen in the last 20 months.”

The Prime Minister added that “it doesn’t take long to do the test at the airport.”

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said on Wednesday that it was too early to say whether Canada’s latest requirement to test incoming air travelers would be expanded to include those arriving from United States or not.

“We need to be prepared and ready if we need to adjust that decision to include travelers from the United States. We have not made that decision yet,” he said.

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Feds, provinces considering expanding COVID-19 testing to US travelers amid Omicron

When asked what provincial measures are being considered to deal with the Omicron variant, Ford said it will make sure to expand its testing and contact tracing capacity.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said much was still unknown about the variant, including how effective a vaccine against it would be.

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She said the province was “continued with all of our precautions” and said it was important to keep border restrictions in place until more is known about this variation.

Elliott also said more information will be released in the coming days “regarding age categories” about the booster shots.

– With files from Saba Aziz and The Canadian Press

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