Canada Back in Lockdown, Despite High Vaccine Rates

As it prepares for omicron, Canada is strengthening its border with measures that will affect towns along the border.

The government of Justin Trudeau stated on Friday all incoming passengers who spend less than 72 hours outside of Canada will be required to present a pre-arrival, negative PCR screening test.

The rule, which Canada relaxed on November 30, will be reinstated on December 21.

The fear over omicron

The shift comes as omicron fears have grown in Canada, prompting authorities in several communities to re-impose epidemic measures, such as gathering restrictions and a moratorium on in-person participation at some big athletic events.

The federal authorities warned against unnecessary travel outside the country earlier this week, citing a strong increase in COVID cases.

“This is terrible on an emotional and physiological level,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said on Friday. “Now is not the time to pull the plug; we’ve gone this far.”

Duclos said he and his G-7 colleagues discussed the likelihood of a “perfect storm” in the following weeks on Thursday.

The components, he added, would include a jump in the number of individuals admitted to hospitals, as well as a significant increase in the number of sick healthcare professionals. “This is a triple whammy that we must avoid like the plague,” he said.

Canada is also removing a travel prohibition for travelers arriving from ten African nations, namely Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Nigeria, and Egypt, as revealed by Duclos on Friday.

At 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, the time will change. “While we appreciate that our initial emergency step sparked debate, we feel it was necessary to delay omicron’s entrance in Canada during a period of uncertainty,” Duclos stated.

“In light of the current circumstances, this measure has accomplished its function and is no longer required.”

Only two weeks of freedom

Canada ceased mandating pre-arrival COVID tests from passengers who depart and return to the country within 72 hours, just over two weeks earlier.

Border villages and business organizations have campaigned for the adjustment in order to keep the border open. Many people were concerned the C$200 price tag per test would discourage cross-border travel and harm businesses.

At the same press briefing, Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam, said close to 350 instances of omicron had been reported from across the nation. The figure is projected to rise rapidly.

She cautioned the anticipated revival, which might arrive at an unprecedented rate, could overwhelm Canada’s “already stretched and weak” healthcare system.

“As a deeply weary healthcare staff prepares for a potential crisis in the weeks ahead, I’m urging Canadians throughout the nation to carefully assess and alter their Christmas actions to reduce risks and maximize layers and level of protection for you and your family,” Tam said.