News

A Message from GTAA President and CEO in Response to COVID-19

Government of Canada directives on travel

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, recently outlined additional actions being taken under the Government of Canada’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19 to limit its spread and to provide support to Canadian travellers. The Prime Minister also strongly urged Canadians to heed the following recommendations that:

  • All Canadians avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice
  • Canadian travellers return to Canada via commercial means while they remain available
  • All travellers to Canada self-isolate for 14 days upon entry, with exceptions for workers who are essential to the movement of goods and people

The Prime Minister further announced that, beginning March 18, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. EDT, the Government of Canada will, for air travel specifically:

  • Bar foreign nationals from all countries from entering Canada. The measure would not apply in designated exceptional circumstances, including to air crews, travellers arriving in Canada in transit to a third country, Canadian permanent residents, diplomats, or immediate family members of Canadian citizens.
  • Redirect international passenger flight arrivals to four airports: Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, and Calgary International Airport. At this time, this measure will not affect domestic flights or flights from the United States, sun destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean, or St. Pierre-et-Miquelon, which can continue to operate on their regular routes and land at current Canadian destinations. The Government is working closely with the airline industry and airports to avoid unnecessarily disrupting operations and minimize additionally inconveniencing travellers.
  • Strengthen screening measures at airports, including stronger and more visible messaging, health screening at kiosks, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic areas and facilities at airports.

*Note that since the Prime Minister’s announcement, Canada and United States have agreed to restrict non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border for an as-yet unspecified period of time. 

Please note Toronto Pearson is unable to answer questions regarding immigration. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) handles all immigration services for Canada. If you have questions or need direction regarding immigration, please contact CBSA or the coronavirus information line at 1-833-784-4397.  

Travelling through Pearson

The safety of our passengers and employees is our top priority. We’re working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), who is leading Canada’s public health response to COVID-19, and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the agency responsible for facilitating the flow of legitimate travellers and trade into and out of Canada.

PHAC has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for Canada at this time. You should know that PHAC notes that there are increased health risks for Canadian travellers abroad. Because of these risks, the Government of Canada advises you to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice, this includes cruise ships.

As of March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada has implemented measures to: 

  • strengthen health screening
  • increase presence to conduct further health screening and public outreach
  • increase signage throughout the arrivals area to encourage travellers to follow the latest public health guidance
  • prevent all travellers who have COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their citizenship, from boarding international flights to Canada
    – airlines will conduct a basic health assessment of all air travellers based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada

The Government of Canada has put in place enhanced border measures at Canadian airports and land borders to help identify any travellers returning to Canada who may be ill.

All international travellers will see additional signage in French and English, asking them to alert a border services officer should they have any flu-like symptoms.

Banners and information booths are also in place.

Travellers will need to respond to a screening question that has been added to electronic kiosks for all international travellers. This question is available in 15 different languages and asks travellers to identify if they are experiencing symptoms. 

The Government of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada recommend that all travellers will need to remain in self-isolation for 14 days when they return to Canada, whether by air or land border crossing. 

Please note that at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s discretion, screening measures are subject to change as the response to COVID-19 changes. Your best resource for the most up-to-date screening measures at Canadian airports is www.canada.ca/coronavirus

Travellers from Hubei, China, Iran or Italy who do not show signs or symptoms of illness upon entry into Canada will be required to provide contact information and will receive a handout advising them to limit contact with others for 14 days, and contact their public health authority within 24 hours of arriving in Canada. These travellers will also receive a surgical mask with instructions on use, should they begin to experience symptoms while travelling.

What Toronto Pearson is doing

Toronto Pearson has added or enhanced cleaning procedures in conjunction and will continue to evolve these processes as needed. These include:

  • Additional cleaning staff hours
  • Additional hand sanitizer stations at key terminal locations, access points and other heavily travelled areas
  • Use of disinfectant wipes and solutions for escalator, moving sidewalk, stairwell and baggage cart handrails and handles
  • Regular disinfecting of all hard surfaces
  • Enhanced disinfection of terminal washrooms 
  • Regular disinfection of passenger processing kiosks 

Enhanced queuing/metering measures to support Public Health recommendations relating to social distancing.

What you can do

Always follow usual health precautions when travelling:

  • If you have travelled anywhere outside of Canada, it is recommended that you self-isolate for 14 days, even if you don’t have symptoms
  • Monitor your health for fever, cough and difficulty breathing
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette

If you are feeling sick when you return to Canada, tell a flight attendant or a border services officer when you arrive so they can help you get further medical attention.

If you are sick after you return to Canada, see a health care provider and tell them the countries you visited.

Telehealth Ontario phone lines are open 24 hours a day by calling 1-866-797-0000.

Support for Canadians abroad

To help Canadians return home or cope with challenges they are facing while travelling, the Government of Canada has created the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad.

The Program will provide the option of an emergency loan to Canadians in need of immediate financial assistance to return home or to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return.

Global Affairs Canada is providing 24/7 consular support to Canadians abroad affected by COVID-19 through the Emergency Watch and Response Centre and through consular staff at its network of missions.

For more information, please visit www.canada.ca/coronavirus

Useful links

As the lead agency responsible for the response to COVID-19, PHAC is your best resource for the most up to date information on COVID-19.

The most up-to-date information on COVID-19 can be found at PHAC’s website. Visit www.canada.ca/coronavirus.

Please consult the destination page on travel.gc.ca for the latest travel advice: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.

Stay in the know by following PHAC’s twitter feed. Visit www.twitter.com/GovCanHealth.



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