During Justin Trudeau’s COVID update Tuesday, the prime minister backed away from previous statements that travel was the primary evildoer when it comes to COVID transmission.
He admitted that community transmission is the biggest driver of the epidemic, but is still discouraging Canadians from travelling abroad and repeated that efforts are underway to impose stricter measures on non-essential travel.
When asked why the government doesn’t announce these measures immediately, Trudeau replied that it’s to ensure that they don’t have unforeseen negative impacts on the country’s supply chains.
“We have to be very careful as we move forward on even further measures,” said Trudeau. “That’s why we’re working very carefully and very diligently on the new measures we will be bringing forward in the coming days, to make sure that we are further discouraging non-essential travel that we are further keeping Canadians safe, but we are not bringing in hardship around our supply lines.”
However, Trudeau also repeatedly insisted that the measures already in place have been effective at slowing the spread.
He extolled the success of the travel ban on incoming foreign visitors since last March and the 14-day quarantine that he said “has been extraordinarily effective over the past year at keeping the importation of cases, extremely low, but obviously extremely low is still not zero and one case is too many if we’re importing, particularly given the variants out there.”
During his address, Trudeau conceded that travel is not the primary driver of the spread of the virus.
“I’ve spoken about travellers earlier and the strict measures at the border, but let’s not forget that it is especially the community transmission that continues to propagate this virus,” said the prime minister.
Ottawa has been hinting for several days that stricter measures are coming to discourage non-essential travel during the pandemic, including a statement by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland Monday that said the federal government was considering mandatory hotel quarantines as a way to tighten travel measures designed to fight COVID-19.
Meanwhile, several political leaders have urged Ottawa to impose stronger restrictions including Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory who separately called for action on Monday to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Mark Stachiew Editor
Mark Stachiew is a Montreal-based travel journalist who’s been exploring and writing about the world for more than 30 years. When he’s not travelling somewhere or grappling with words on a page, he curates his own collection of travel gear.