With travel restrictions still in place, Canada has clarified what types of trips are considered “essential” in order to gauge which travellers should be let into the country.
Foreigners who are exempt from Canada’s coronavirus travel restrictions, such as temporary foreign workers, immediate family members of Canadians, and certain international students, must demonstrate the purpose of their trip is for an essential reason. In the government’s words, the reason must be “non-optional” or “non-discretionary.”
At the end of the day, it is up to the officer to assess whether or not the reason for the trip is permissible for entry to Canada.
Some of the travel purposes that are considered essential may be:
• economic services and supply chains;
• providing service that is essential to the health, safety, security, or economic well-being of Canadians and the government, in other words, “critical infrastructure support;”
• health (immediate medical care), safety and security;
• supporting Indigenous communities;
• transiting through Canada for essential purposes;
• studying in Canada if approved before March 18, 2020, Canada is still accepting applications for international students and will advise them when travel opens to them;
• tending to sick family members who have no one else to help them in Canada; or
• any other activities that are deemed “non-optional” or “non-discretionary” by the Canadian government.
The government defines “optional” or “discretionary” travel as coming to Canada for the purposes of tourism, recreation, and entertainment among others. Some examples of trips that the government does not consider essential include:
• visiting family for a vacation;
• coming to Canada for the birth of a new family member, although they may make an exception for the baby’s parent;
• visiting a secondary home even for the purposes of upkeep and maintenance; or
• attending the funeral of a family member, as quarantine measures in Canada already limit the number of attendees allowed at funerals under provincial restrictions.
Family ties will not automatically qualify as essential travel. Travelling family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents must prove that they are travelling for an essential reason such as:
Travellers must demonstrate they have an adequate quarantine plan
All foreigners travelling to Canada must self-quarantine for a period of 14 days upon arrival. They will be asked to provide their quarantine plan, with answers to questions such as:
• Where will they stay?
• How will they get groceries and medicine without going to the store?
• Will there be vulnerable people where they are staying?
If they cannot prove that they have an adequate quarantine plan, travellers may be forced to stay in a hotel or another facility that the government has deemed suitable for quarantine.