Measures will save lives, says Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (BBC)
OTTAWA – Canada will be closing its borders to anyone who is not a citizen or a permanent resident, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced.
The new measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in Canada does not include United States citizens.
Additionally, air operators will be "formally mandated” to prevent symptomatic travellers from boarding flights to Canada, Trudeau said.
The prime minister said he has informed G7 partners of the new rules.
Only four Canadian airports – in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver – will be accepting international flights beginning Wednesday.
"As the virus continues its spread, we've decided to take increasingly aggressive steps to keep you and your families safe," Trudeau said.
Trudeau said these "far reaching" measures will help save lives.
Canada had at least 324 confirmed cases of Covid-19 across all ten provinces as of Monday morning. There are an additional 17 presumptive cases.
Three new deaths linked to the virus were reported, bringing the total fatalities in Canada to four, all in the province of British Columbia.
Trudeau addressed Canadians outside his residence. He is in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie, tested positive last week for the coronavirus.
Last week, Canada asked citizens to avoid all non-essential travel and urged travellers to return home where possible. All returning Canadians are being asked to self-isolate for two weeks.
The new measures on travel to Canada will be in place as of Wednesday, 18 March, officials said.
Trudeau said there will be an assistance programme implemented for asymptomatic Canadians abroad to help them pay for their return, if needed, or to help them with basic needs as they wait to come home.
"If you're abroad, it's time for you to come home," the prime minister said.