The federal government has now made it mandatory for Canadians returning home from abroad to quarantine for 14 days. Anyone who doesn’t comply could be facing massive penalties.

This is one of the latest steps taken by the government in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 as national cases continue to rise.

The mandatory two-week quarantine was announced Wednesday by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and officially came into effect at borders on Thursday.

“We are now implementing the Quarantine Act to keep all Canadians safe. If you do not comply to these instructions you can face serious fines and even prison time,” Justin Trudeau confirmed at a press conference on Thursday morning.

Trudeau emphasized that the vast majority of Canadians have been obeying the government’s advice over the past few weeks, but the stricter measures come from concerns over those who continue to disobey.

“Some people have not been taking this seriously. They are stopping by the grocery store on their way home from the airport. They are getting together with friends after being away on spring break. This kind of conduct is not just disappointing, it’s dangerous,” said Trudeau.

The drastic measures are now applicable to all travellers and the new protocols are now being seen at border locations.

According to a tweet sent out by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), they’ve now added the information onto declaration cards received by travelers at ports of entry.

“Anyone entering Canada by air, land or marine must declare to a CBSA border services officer,” the tweet reads.

The newly announced quarantine measures are in response to Canadians choosing to disobey the federal government’s advisories over the last few weeks.

Officials have been asked to tell returnees that they must go straight home and are not allowed to stop along the way. According to Health Minister Patty Hajdu and her department, anyone who does not go straight home or refuses to stay in quarantine for 14 days will be subject to massive fines or even jail time.

The penalty for violating this order could cost anyone caught up to $750,000. It could also result in arrest and up to six months in jail.

Penalties are even more drastic if officials believe someone is jeopardizing others’ lives “while wilfully or recklessly contravening the act.” If caught, that could mean fines up to $1 million or three years in prison.

According to health officials, the government of Canada will be conducting random spot checks to verify compliance.

“My officials are working with the CBSA right now to ensure that people know that this will be serious and that there will be significant penalties if people violate the quarantine,” Hajdu said.

In addition, all travelers returning to Canada are forbidden from taking public transit back to their houses. The government has said they will provide transportation for anyone who does not have their own vehicle.

Hajdu also added that if you are taking a connecting flight to a different Canadian city, other than one of the four airports receiving international flights, and you show any symptoms, you will be required to quarantine for two weeks in the city you land. The government will be paying for accommodation under these circumstances.

Graham Cox