Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday Canada would take "increasingly aggressive steps" to keep Canadians safe during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
"We will be closing our borders to people who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada," said Trudeau. Currently, the exceptions to this will be air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens, and U.S. citizens.
Airlines will now be mandated to prohibit anyone exhibiting symptoms from boarding flights. Asymptomatic Canadians trying to return home will have access to resources that will help them return home.
Only four Canadian airports will receive international flights starting Weds. March 18: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal. U.S., Mexico, or Caribbean flights will not be included in the lockout, and it does not affect commerce.
"These measures will help save lives," said Trudeau, adding that Canada has sought guidance on how the nation has responded to the spread of the novel coronavirus based on science and experts.
Trudeau spoke to the media from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, where he is under self-quarantine following his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau's, positive COVID-19 test results.
Canada has at least 377 confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19. There are cases in all provinces, however none so far in the territories. There has been just one death in Canada, that of an elderly man in North Vancouver, B.C.
Trudeau said there will be additional measures to support Canadians as soon as Tuesday, in particular our country's most vulnerable citizens.
Trudeau emphasized a Canada-wide streamlined approach to tackling COVID-19.
"If you're abroad, you must come home," cautioned Trudeau, adding that Canadians who have been abroad must self-isolate. He added that Canadians must stay home if they can in order to protect the community and each other.
"We all have to do it."
Trudeau finished by urging Canadians to practice social distancing, but to make use of tools like FaceTime and e-mail to keep in close contact with friends, family, and the community.