Canada joined a number of European nations by halting flights from the U.Okay. on Sunday in an effort to stop a brand new, doubtlessly extra contagious pressure of the coronavirus from spreading to this nation.

CBC Information obtained a Discover to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by Transport Canada stating that every one business, non-public and constitution flights transporting passengers from the U.Okay. shall be suspended as of midnight tonight. The restriction does not apply to cargo flights, plane touchdown for security causes or flights that land for technical stops the place no passengers disembark.

The discover mentioned Transport Minister Marc Garneau “is of the opinion it is necessary for aviation safety and the protection of the public, to prohibit the [operations] of commercial air … from the United Kingdom for the transport of passengers on an inbound [flight] to Canada.”

Information from the flight monitoring web site Flight Conscious present that not less than 10 nonstop flights departing from London airports arrived in Toronto, 4 in Montreal, and two in Vancouver over the previous week. A few of these flights continued on to different locations, together with Calgary and Edmonton.

Minister of Public Security and Emergency Preparedness Invoice Blair tweeted that the restrictions “will be initially in place for 72 hours after which time they could be extended or enhanced.”

The Public Well being Company of Canada (PHAC) mentioned in a press release passengers who arrived in Canada Sunday from the U.Okay. are actually topic to enhanced screening measures, together with stronger scrutiny of their quarantine plans. Passengers who arrived in earlier days from the U.Okay. will obtain route from the Canadian authorities, the assertion mentioned.

Air Canada mentioned it will quickly droop all flights between Canada and London’s Heathrow Airport as of Monday. Two closing flights will depart from Toronto and Vancouver and fly to London Sunday night, the airline mentioned. 

“We regret the impact of the government directive to immediately suspend flights on our customers’ travel plans in the middle of the holiday season and will continue to monitor this dynamic situation closely and adjust the schedule as appropriate,” the assertion mentioned.

The choice to limit U.Okay. flights adopted a day assembly of the Incident Response Group (IRG), a bunch of cupboard members and senior authorities officers. 

Garneau, Blair, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Well being Minister Patty Hajdu, International Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc all attended the assembly.

No circumstances of latest pressure recognized but in Canada

Hajdu and Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public well being officer, up to date the group in regards to the genetic variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, “including its reportedly higher transmissibility,” based on a readout of the decision from the prime minister’s workplace. Dr. Tam and Hajdu up to date the group on the variant’s properties, together with its reportedly larger transmissibility.

A number of ministers instructed the group the extra measures would give the federal government time “to gather further evidence and conduct additional research on the new variant to keep Canadians safe,” the assertion mentioned.

PHAC mentioned no circumstances of the brand new pressure have been recognized in Canada, though public well being officers and researchers are working to find out whether or not the pressure is already current.

“Genetic variation of viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19 is to be expected and have been previously observed in parts of the world this year,” PHAC mentioned in a press release. “While early data suggest that the United Kingdom variant may be more transmissible, to date there is no evidence that the mutations have any impact on symptom severity, antibody response, or vaccine efficacy.”

The IRG assembly was convened as a number of European nations restricted journey from the U.Okay. after Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed on Saturday {that a} new variant of the coronavirus that’s greater than 70 per cent extra transmissible than current strains is driving a speedy rise within the variety of individuals testing optimistic for COVID-19 within the U.Okay.

Eire, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Italy all blocked flights from the U.Okay. — some for 48 hours and others for longer. Germany known as a particular disaster assembly of EU international locations scheduled for Monday to co-ordinate the response to the virus information among the many bloc’s 27 member states. Champagne instructed the IRG in regards to the measures different international locations took in response to the brand new variant, based on the assertion.

WATCH | A number of international locations halt journey to and from the U.Okay.:

With a brand new pressure of coronavirus sweeping throughout southern England, a number of EU international locations have stopped journey to and from the U.Okay. 3:27

Canada has severely restricted journey into the nation since March. Broadly, solely Canadian residents, everlasting residents and specialised overseas employees — most of whom journey from the U.S. — are granted entry. There are some exceptions, together with for shut relations of Canadian residents and everlasting residents to Canada.

Travellers who’re granted entry to Canada are required to quarantine or self-isolate for 14 days upon coming into Canada.

The prime minister’s workplace mentioned the brand new measures present a further layer of safety.

“These new measures complement the robust travel restrictions and border measures that have been in place since March 2020, notably mandatory quarantine measures that require travellers to quarantine or isolate for 14 days immediately upon entry to Canada,” the prime minister’s workplace added in a press release.

Opposition politicians press for motion

Previous to Trudeau gathering together with his cupboard ministers, Bloc Quebecois Chief Yves-François Blanchet known as on the federal government to comply with Europe’s lead and impose a journey ban on the U.Okay. to stop the pressure from reaching Canada.

“It will be several months before the pandemic is contained, especially with the number of [vaccine] doses available remains far too small,” Blanchet mentioned in a press release launched in French.

“If a variant of COVID-19 were to spread with increased speed among vulnerable people, the effects could be devastating on people’s health as well as on the health-care system and staff already under tremendous pressure.”

NDP Chief Jagmeet Singh echoed that decision in a Twitter publish, saying that whereas extra info is required, flights from the U.Okay. ought to be suspended within the meantime.

“With vaccines still very rare, if this new strain gets loose here in vulnerable populations, it will be a disaster,” his publish learn.

Conservative well being critic Michelle Rempel Garner known as on the Liberal authorities to offer extra details about the brand new genetic variant and to clarify any determination to limit flights.

“Canadians are looking for accurate information about the new variant of COVID-19 that has been identified in the United Kingdom,” Garner mentioned in an emailed assertion.

“The ties between our two countries are extremely close, with many Canadians’ families overseas … if the Trudeau government is considering a similar travel ban, they need to clearly communicate this to Canadians and their rationale for doing so as soon as possible.”

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