Canada on Wednesday intensified its guidelines for travelers returning home in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, mandating a 14-day period of self-isolation.
The move comes after repeated reports of travellers, including Canadians rushing to return as the border closed and commercial travel options disappeared, stopping to pick up groceries or do errands after they had crossed the border back into Canada.
On Friday, Quebec City police arrested a woman who tested positive for the coronavirus after she went out for a walk, violating a quarantine order.
"Public health officials have been loud and clear: this virus could devastate our community", he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the health minister is using powers that she has under the Quarantine Act and they're required now to flatten the curve of COVID-19 in the country. "Anytime you have a public health emergency I don't think the government should be afraid to take mandatory measures and also, unfortunately, we've seen that people just aren't adhering to the optional measures in many cases".
She also said that officials will gather traveller's contact information and then follow up with them directly to make sure they are staying in their homes even if they don't have symptoms. There is no immediate word on how the government will be enforcing the measure.
The federal government said maximum penalities include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.
Everyone permitted to enter Canada are subject to this Order, "with the exception of certain persons who cross the border regularly to ensure the continued flow of goods and services, and those who provide essential services".
Worldwide travel, particularly from hard-hit countries such as China, Iran, and South Korea and then later Europe and the US, has been identified as one of the major reasons for the virus' spread in Canada.
Freeland said the measure is not retroactive for people who have already returned.