By The Canadian Press
A slew of travel restrictions and rules meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be extended into January, the federal government said Sunday, as case counts continued to rise steadily across the country.
In a statement, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the measures would be in effect until Jan. 21, 2021 for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States.
The rules were first imposed near the start of the global outbreak.
“We have introduced a number of policies to keep Canadians safe but must remain flexible and adapt to the evolving COVID-19 situation,” Blair said in a statement.
The ministers said restrictions for visitors crossing the border from the U.S. are currently in place until Dec. 21, but may be extended.
Among the new rules is a requirement for anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days.
But the ministers also said they’re looking to make it possible for “high-performance, amateur sporting organizations” to hold major international events on Canadian soil.
They said the successful applicants would need to present a public health plan as well as show they’ve secured the support of provincial and territorial governments and health authorities.
The Department of Canadian Heritage will issue authorizations in consultation with the Health Agency of Canada, the ministers said.
The announcement comes as COVID-19 case counts continued to mount, though at levels slightly below the record-setting daily tallies seen in several regions in recent weeks.
Public health officials in Quebec reported 1,395 new cases on Sunday, while Ontario recorded 1,708 new infections — pushing the provincial totals since the pandemic began to 141,038 and 114,746, respectively.
Cases also have gone up steadily in Atlantic Canada, with New Brunswick reporting 14 new diagnoses on Sunday and Newfoundland and Labrador recording four additional infections.
Public health officials in Nova Scotia logged 10 new cases, all in the province’s central zone, which includes Halifax.
Manitoba reported 365 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 11 new deaths — almost all of which were linked to outbreaks in care homes.
Health officials said nine of the 11 deaths were people in their 80s and 90s, one was a man in his 60s and one was a man in his 70s.
The case count in Nunavut also rose by 13, while Saskatchewan reported 351 new infections.
Alberta reported its second highest number of new COVID-19 cases, logging 1,608, with nine more deaths.
Canada’s top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the highest rate of infection is among people aged 80 and over, while more outbreaks are happening in long-term care homes.
“Cases are increasing among older adults,” Tam said in a statement.
Both Quebec and Manitoba reported new, significant outbreaks at such facilities.
A Montreal public health agency on Sunday transferred 20 residents of a long-term care home to two local hospitals after a COVID-19 outbreak drew widespread concern this week.
Officials said 30 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 at Maimonides Geriatric Centre. Ten residents there have died during the pandemic’s second wave, according to the latest Quebec Health Department data.