OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada is narrowly easing some border restrictions to allow immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents separated because of the coronavirus pandemic to reunite, officials said on Monday.
During his daily press briefing outside of his Ottawa residence, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the “limited exemption” will apply to individuals including spouses and common-law partners, dependent children, parents or guardians who are entering Canada to be with an immediate family member.
“This is an incredibly difficult time to be apart from a spouse, a child or mom and dad. We hear that,” Trudeau said.
Individuals must be symptom-free of COVID-19 and must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. They must also be planning to reunite with an immediate family member for a minimum of 15 days.
“The purpose of this measure is not to allow people to come and go into Canada whenever they like, but rather to help Canadian families reunite during this unprecedented time,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said during a news conference.
Canada shut its borders to non-essential foreign travelers, like tourists, in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus and it is unclear when they will be open again. As of June 7, Canada had 95,699 cases of COVID-19 and had reported 7,800 deaths.
The Canada-U.S. border is closed to all non-essential travel until at least June 21 under a joint agreement between the two countries. However, the border has remained open to essential travel, like trade of goods.
Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa; Editing by Nick Zieminski