Trudeau Cancels Flights to Curb Virus; Air Canada Falls

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is introducing sweeping new restrictions on international travel in a bid to stem the spread of new variants of Covid-19 into the country.

The country’s largest airlines have agreed to suspend flights to the Caribbean and Mexico for three months, Trudeau said at a press conference in Ottawa. Travelers coming into Canada will now be tested on arrival and will have to quarantine at designated hotels for as long as three days to await results.

The new measures add to existing requirements that include evidence of a negative test before boarding the flight and 14-day quarantine after arrival.

Trudeau Cancels Flights to Curb Virus; Air Canada Falls

Under the new rules, passengers who test negative at the airport can isolate for the remainder of that two-week period at home. Those who test positive will be required to stay in a public health facility.

Four airlines -- Air Canada, WestJet Airlines, Air Transat and Sunwing -- are part of the agreement, Trudeau said. The cancellations will go into effect on Jan. 31 to April 30.

Air Canada fell as much as 7.9%, hitting its lowest point since Nov. 13, but pared losses after the airline said the impact on cash burn would be “not material given the already reduced levels of passenger traffic.” Air Canada was down 5.4% to C$19.89 at 2:29 p.m. in Toronto.

No Winter Escape

The measures represent a significant escalation of travel restrictions at a time when many residents typically would be heading to warmer destinations to escape winter. Canada is grappling with a fresh wave of cases that has forced business closures in parts of the country and even a curfew in the province of Quebec.

There’s also growing unease about new strains of the virus that have surfaced in Canada, which has had more than 766,000 virus cases and nearly 20,000 deaths.

“We’re taking difficult measures now so that we can get through this quicker, so that we have less damage to our economy, our industries, to our workers, to our lives,” Trudeau said during his televised address.

The government is also restricting international flights to four airports -- Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary -- though the majority of such flights already come into those four cities.

Trudeau the quarantine hotel stay would come at travelers’ own expense, which was estimated at C$2,000 ($1,560) or more.

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