Canada has begun barring most foreign nationals from entering the country as part of its effort to combat coronavirus, the Daily Caller reported.
“We can still slow the spread of this virus,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a Monday press conference. “It is time to take every precaution to keep people safe.”
“This measure will carve out some designated exceptions, including for air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and, at this time, U.S. citizens,” he continued.
Trudeau explained that the exemption for Americans was the result of close collaboration with the U.S. government, noting that “the level of integration of our two countries is quite particular.”
“We recognize that the level of integration of our two economies and the coordination that we’ve had over the past while puts the U.S. in a separate category from the rest of the world,” the prime minister said.
Finally, Trudeau advised Canadians visiting other countries to cut their trips short. “Let me be clear,” he stressed, “if you’re abroad, it’s time to come home.”
The tough measures represent a major change in policy. When the Trump administration instituted a China travel ban in February, Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu declared the country wouldn’t be following suit.
According to Hajdu, the government saw no “evidence to support that closing all the borders is necessarily the right way to go.”
That decision brought praise from China, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying saying, “Canada believes the ban of entry has no basis, which is a sharp contrast for the U.S. behaviours.”
Politically correct concern
Trudeau himself seemed more concerned at the time about the ability of the virus to generate anti-Chinese bigotry than to spur widespread illness and death.
“There is no place for discrimination driven by fear or misinformation,” he said during a speech on conronavirus in January. “This not something Canadians will ever stand for.” Trudeau also made a point of being photographed eating at a Chinese restaurant, in an apparent effort to demonstrate solidarity.
Late last week, it was revealed that the prime minister’s wife had tested positive for coronavirus and that he would be entering isolation as a precautionary measure.