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Canada ends ban on flights from the U.K. as coronavirus variant spreads

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Canada ends ban on flights from the U.K., Garneau says' Coronavirus: Canada ends ban on flights from the U.K., Garneau says
Transport Minister Marc Garneau confirmed on Wednesday that Canada is ending its ban on flights from the United Kingdom as the new coronavirus variant continues to spread within the U.K.’s borders. – Jan 6, 2021

Canada is ending its ban on flights from the United Kingdom as the new coronavirus variant continues to spread within the U.K.’s borders.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau confirmed the development during a Wednesday press conference.

Read more: U.K. imposes new national lockdown as coronavirus and new variant spread rapidly

“The ban on U.K. flights, which was going until midnight tonight, will lapse. It will no longer be applicable,” Garneau said.

“We have made that decision based on the fact that we have now put in place, since that original ban, a pre-departure testing protocol… so that will replace the ban that existed for the U.K. and it applies, of course, to all countries in the world from which flights may come to Canada.”

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Click to play video 'U.K. goes into national lockdown, as COVID-19 variant continues spread' U.K. goes into national lockdown, as COVID-19 variant continues spread
U.K. goes into national lockdown, as COVID-19 variant continues spread – Jan 5, 2021

New travel restrictions are slated to come into effect on Jan. 7 that would force anyone flying to Canada to show a negative coronavirus test result before stepping on the plane. While the move has sent industry and passengers into a tailspin as they grapple with the new rules, federal officials hope the move will catch some cases that could have otherwise entered Canada unnoticed.

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Meanwhile, 11 cases of the COVID-19 variant – which has been found to spread more quickly than the original variant – have been found on Canadian soil.

The variant has been found to be between 50 and 70 per cent more infectious than the initial coronavirus that spread around the world. That reality has forced the U.K. to take extreme measures, including imposing a third countrywide lockdown, as the BBC reports as many as one in 50 people in the U.K. might have the virus.

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Airline industry growing frustrated with government’s changing COVID-19 directives – Jan 6, 2021

Speaking on Tuesday, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said that avoiding all non-essential international travel – from the U.K. and otherwise – is an important tool in quelling the spread of the virus.

“Mutations of the virus can occur all the time, and these variants of concern … can actually come up in different areas of the world, not just the U.K.,” Tam said.

In addition to these measures, Canada has had a mandatory 14-day quarantine in place since March 2020, forcing everyone who enters the country from abroad to hunker down for two weeks.

Read more: U.K. jumps ahead in global COVID-19 vaccine race, rolls out 1st AstraZeneca shots

The prime minister has also strongly advised against any non-essential travel – a message he reiterated in a Tuesday press conference.

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“No one should be vacationing abroad right now,” Justin Trudeau said.

“So many people gave up so much more than just a vacation over the holidays. There’s a reason so many Canadians made those tough but responsible decisions. There’s a reason so many Canadians did their part. It was for the people around them.”