Starting at midnight tonight, all travellers returning home to Canada, with the exception of essential workers, must go into mandatory self-isolation for 14 days.
"Individuals who exhibit symptoms on arrival in Canada are forbidden also from using public transit to travel to their places of self-isolation", Hajdu said on Wednesday, speaking to the Senate, according to CTV News.
The mandatory action under the Quarantine Act took effect Wednesday night and doesn't apply to essential workers like truck drivers and healthcare workers.
To ensure the rules are being followed, Hajdu said officials will collect travellers' contact information to follow up with them and there will be random inspections. "We have decided now is the time to make that measure mandatory".
Freeland said people who have already returned should be self-isolating at home already, noting it is critical to protect the health of Canadians and ultimately to ensure that the country's economic rebound comes more quickly.
Freeland said the issue of mandatory quarantines was debated at length during the Monday meeting of the cabinet coronavirus committee.
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Anyone returning to Canada from overseas - even if it's just across the Canada-U.S. border - will now have to self-quarantine at home or face the consequences.
The government is stepping up measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve here at home.
"Maximum penalties include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months". "It will get worse before it gets better".
Hajdu said no one will be permitted to quarantine anywhere they can come into contact with vulnerable people; those who, for example, live with an elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system will have to quarantine elsewhere.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said at a separate news conference that it will be a "legal obligation" for those returning to the country to go into self-isolation. The Canada-U.S. border has also been closed to all non-essential travel.