This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. on December 15.
As multiple Canadian news outlets had anticipated, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government today announced a new advisory for its citizens to avoid non-essential international travel in an effort to slow the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
More than one government official had told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio-Canada that Trudeau and the premiers from Canadian provinces held a call yesterday evening, on which they discussed returning to much stronger travel restrictions.
Among the proposals floated on the call was a new ban on all non-essential foreign travelers into Canada, including those from the United States, and stricter quarantine and testing measures for travelers who are allowed into Canada, including returning Canadians and permanent residents. But no decision was reached then, per those reports.
At the least, Trudeau was expected to advise Canadians against traveling outside the country, according to a Reuters report citing a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Canada’s border with the United States reopened in August to fully vaccinated American citizens and permanent residents, after being closed for more than 16 months to non-essential travel during the pandemic.
To enter Canada, all travelers must use the government’s ArriveCAN “vaccine passport” app, which allows travelers to upload passport information as well as Covid-19 vaccination records and PCR test results.
“We are in the midst of a global wave of a variant that just turns out to be extremely, extremely, extremely contagious,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told CBC’s Power & Politics yesterday. “We have a chance to keep this under control. But we can only do that if all of us really act, and the federal government is committed to doing its part.”
Earlier today, Trudeau told reporters that Canadians will “have to be vigilant and make careful decisions about Christmas,” the CBC reported.
In a news briefing Wednesday afternoon, the government did not announce a travel ban but instead issued an official advisory for Canadians to cancel any upcoming trips abroad.
“To those who were planning to travel, I say very clearly, now is not the time to travel,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos at the briefing. “The rapid spread of the omicron variant on a global scale makes us fear the worst.”
While Canadian officials have left the door open for more restrictions in the future, the US-Canada border remains open. Fully vaccinated travelers can enter, provided they can show a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of entry.