Skip to main content

The federal government is banning domestic air travel and inter-city train trips for people with symptoms of COVID-19, but the ban won’t apply to commuter trains or inter-provincial buses.

At his daily press conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the new measures would take effect on Monday at noon.

How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

How big data, population health and other scientists are trying to map COVID-19 in the community

“We’ve told people who have symptoms that they need to self-isolate, they need to stay home, they should not travel. Now there will be Transport Canada rules coming into place that will prevent anyone indicating symptoms to travel by airline or by train,” Mr. Trudeau said.

He didn’t explain how the internal travel ban will be enforced but urged people with any symptoms of COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel coronavirus, to stay home.

“It'll be a Transport Canada rule that will be enforced,” Mr. Trudeau said.

The new rules do not apply to passenger bus services because they don’t fall under federal jurisdiction, Mr. Trudeau said. Some regional services are stopping bus travel entirely. For example, in Alberta, Red Arrow announced it is suspending all service effective Sunday until further notice.

Greyhound Canada did not reply to a request for comment by publication.

Canada has already banned Canadians and permanent residents who are exhibiting symptoms from boarding flights home, but the government has been criticized for a lack of enforcement.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, acknowledged in a separate press conference Saturday that there is “no guarantee” that some people won’t circumvent the rules, and said it’s up to everyone to do their part and follow the rules.

“We know people can hide symptoms, by for example taking a Tylenol,” Dr. Njoo said. “It’s the responsibility of every Canadian, if you are sick, stay home.”

Airlines and train operators will be required to conduct a health check of all travelers before they board a flight within Canada, or departing from Canada, according to the government’s press release. The health check will include asking health questions, looking for visible signs of illness and advising that travelers follow the guidance from public health officials.

If a passenger is prevented from boarding, their travel ban will be in effect for 14 days or until they present a medical certificate.

The new rules will not apply to commuter train services, for example those operated by Metrolinx in the Greater Toronto Area or EXO in Montreal, according to a spokesperson for Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

Citing the need for essential travel, Mr. Trudeau said provincial borders will remain open but he said closing them remains an option for the government.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.