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‘This is very good news’: Quebec welcomes Ottawa’s stricter COVID-19 travel requirements

Quebec is happy with the new tighter COVID-19 travel restrictions announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Quebec is applauding the federal government’s decision to crack down on non-essential travel as the novel coronavirus pandemic continues its rampage in the province.

Prime Minister Justin announced several new measures restricting travel, including the suspension of all flights to sunny destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico until April 30.

Travellers arriving in Canada will also be required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 screening, followed by a three-day hotel quarantine at their expense.

Those with negative test results will then be allowed to finish their quarantine at home, “under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement,” Trudeau said.

Those who test positive, however, will be required to quarantine in a public health facility to make sure they aren’t infected with variants of “potential concern.”

Read more: Travellers to pay ‘more than $2K’ for new mandatory COVID-19 hotel quarantine, Trudeau says

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“This is very good news,” said Quebec Deputy Premier and Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault.

The Quebec government had been pushing Ottawa for tougher measures for several weeks, expressing concern over the upcoming spring break.

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Last year, the province had seen a spike in cases of COVID-19 following the break, and was hoping to avoid a similar situation this year.

The province, however, had been hoping for a wider ban on non-essential international flights.

Guilbault said that while Quebec is satisfied with the new measures, there is growing over over the spread of COVID-19 variants, namely from Brazil, the U.K and Africa.

“As you know, there are already eight cases of a variant in Quebec,” Guilbault said. “Four of which are linked to a person who did not respect quarantine.”

Read more: Quebec ramps up efforts to identify COVID-19 variants with surveillance plan

She reiterated the need for travellers to strictly obey quarantine rules.

“Isolate yourself when you return from abroad,” she said.  “It would be catastrophic were the variants to spread in Quebec.”

Guilbault said Quebec would be offering its full support and cooperation to Ottawa to ensure rigorous monitoring of returning travellers.

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Previously, the RCMP was tasked with monitoring those in quarantine but as of last week, Quebec police began to visit Quebecers returning from abroad to ensure they isolating at home.

Guilbault explained that certain details had to be worked out to allow for Quebec police officers to enforce a federal law.

“We receive the list of travelers arriving from the federal government and we check with these weary people if they are indeed doing their quarantine,” she said.

Guilbault also warned that as of Feb. 1, Quebec police officers will be able to issue tickets.

“So far, people have been in compliance,” Guilbault said. ” They’ve answered the door, but to those who might be tempted to be a little more relaxed, know that we will be able to give you (tickets).”

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— With files from Global News’ Rachel Gilmore

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