OTTAWA – The federal government is poised to tighten Canada’s borders once again, weighing a ban on foreign nationals, including those from the US, from entering Canada.

In a race to stop the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, Ottawa will warn Canadians against all non-essential travel and on Tuesday night, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with prime ministers, the federal government I was reconsidering a broader closure of all entries. ports, land and air, to foreigners other than those who are essential workers.

However, Ottawa intends to unveil new travel restrictions that include intensified border testing and quarantine measures, the Star has learned. These include requirements for Canadians traveling abroad to once again produce PCR tests. negative even for short trips of 72 hours or less, a condition that was eliminated briefly before the appearance of the Omicron variant.

Travelers entering fully vaccinated should be screened upon arrival and should be quarantined at home while awaiting negative test results.

Following a phone call between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and prime ministers late Tuesday, multiple sources said the federal government would announce when the travel measures would take effect on Wednesday.

Ottawa is expected to reinstate travel advisories at level three, basically where the country was until October, when it began lifting restrictions on fully vaccinated travelers coming and going.

Canadians, permanent residents, their dependents, refugees and people entering with family reunification permits will continue to have the right of entry, said a source with knowledge of the measures.

In the federal-provincial prime ministers’ call Tuesday night, Trudeau told prime ministers that it is essential to reduce travel for non-essential reasons, but did not indicate that it would be a total closure of the borders, a provincial source said.

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Two sources told the Star that Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney rejected federal authorities, challenging the need for travel measures if the variant was already in Canada.

Canada’s director of public health, Dr. Theresa Tam, is said to have explained that border restrictions will minimize short-term impact.

The measures, including a ban on foreigners, were expected to drastically halt the flow of incoming traffic and give the provinces and territories time to deal with Omicron.

But after the call it appeared that the ban was being reconsidered.

Last week, Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters that despite the decision to test all incoming travelers, airports could only test about two-thirds of arrivals.

The main impact of the two measures being considered would be “to significantly reduce the volume of travelers at the border, both air and ground arrivals, because we are also evaluating the scope in the US,” said a source, who did not it was authorized. to speak publicly about the pending announcement.

So the latest moves would allow more, if not most, people to get tested upon arrival.

Some public health authorities have already reported community transmission (not related to known travel cases) of the Omicron variant in Canada.

That includes Ottawa, where Vice Premier and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland had to forgo an in-person tax update speech to the Commons because staff had tested positive for COVID.

Canadians hope that all governments will use “all the levers at their disposal so that we do not face the same situation faced by the UK, Denmark or Sweden,” said a source.

“If we have fewer people coming in now, we can do more tests. If we do more testing, we can do more contact tracing, if we do more contact tracing, we can do more control and limit the spread of the variant. We can more easily and quickly identify a case, isolate that case, and help that person avoid mass spread in the community, even though we already have community spread. “

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“The idea is to protect our health system, because unlike March 2020, we do not have the reserve of human resources. Hospitals are understaffed across the country. The nurses are burned. “

A provincial source told the Star that Trudeau recognized the hardship everyone faces and acknowledged that with people fully vaccinated, “we don’t want to cut down on Christmas gatherings for people’s mental health reasons.”

The prime minister did not explain to prime ministers what the border closures would look like.

It was also unclear how the federal government can further increase border testing and quarantine measures, and at least one province, Quebec, told Trudeau that they do not have the personnel to dispatch to border entry points to increase testing.

With files from Robert Benzie, Susan Delacourt, Althia Raj

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