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Coronavirus: Legault wants to make travel harder for Quebecers as Ottawa mulls more restrictions

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Legault wants to make travel harder for Quebecers as Ottawa mulls more restrictions' Coronavirus: Legault wants to make travel harder for Quebecers as Ottawa mulls more restrictions
WATCH: With March break just over a month away, pressure is increasingly mounting to make travel harder. Quebec Premier François Legault spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday, urging for tougher tactics against travellers. As Global’s Amanda Jelowicki reports, Legault worries that without them, people will escape down south, and bring COVID-19 variants back to Quebec – Jan 22, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he and his cabinet will discuss Quebec Premier François Legault’s request to impose tougher travel restrictions to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus before March break begins.

Canada’s premiers met virtually with Trudeau on Thursday afternoon. Legault would like to see travelers forced to spend their 14-day quarantine in designated hotels, similar to successful measures used by New Zealand.

“I think it’s clear that if we tell eventual travelers that they will have to pay for two weeks a room in a hotel coming back, I think we will have a lot less travelers,” he said.

Legault says current quarantine rules aren’t harsh enough to deter travelers, and Quebecers are at risk.

“When I see the situation in hospitals in Great Britain, we don’t want to see that,” Legault said. “Right now the quarantine for these people is not enough guarantee for the protection of the Quebec workers.”

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Read more: Non-essential travel ban could be difficult to implement: advocate

Legault has pointed out March break travelers brought COVID-19 back to Quebec last year. It left the province slammed, and the COVID-19 epicentre of the country. With March break in Quebec only five weeks away, Legault is hoping to avoid a repeat.

For his part, Trudeau is urging Canadians not to travel.

“No one should be taking a vacation abroad right now. If you have one planned, cancel it. Don’t book a trip for spring break,” Trudeau said on Friday.

Trudeau says his cabinet will discuss stricter travel restrictions in the coming days. He adds that travel right now is risky for so many reasons.

“We could be bringing in new measures that significantly impede your ability to return to Canada at any given moment without warning,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Trudeau says nobody should be taking a trip abroad right now' Coronavirus: Trudeau says nobody should be taking a trip abroad right now
Coronavirus: Trudeau says nobody should be taking a trip abroad right now – Jan 22, 2021

Some have questioned the legalities of restricting travel, because Canada’s Charter guarantees freedom of movement.

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But constitutional experts say the pandemic is likely an acceptable exception that would hold up in court.

“It’s clearly a violation of the charter. But it can be done,” said constitutional lawyer Julius Grey. “I think COVID is an extreme case. I think the danger of bringing in disease is such that the courts would hesitate to uphold someone’s right to travel.”

The airline industry, though, insists travelers only account for two per cent of COVID-19 cases.

Montreal health experts admit travel hasn’t posed a problem recently in Montreal.

“We have cases that are imported form travelers but it’s not an important proportion of our new cases,” said Montreal public health director Dr. Mylène Drouin.

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