Travel restrictions have been in place at the Canada-U.S. border to some degree since the COVID-19 pandemic set in throughout North America. 

Now, enhanced travel restrictions will require non-essential travellers entering Canada via a land border to present a negative COVID-19 test to be granted entry, Justin Trudeau explained in a public address

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As of February 15, when you return to Canada through a land border, you’ll need to show a 72-hour PCR test, just like for air travel. Justin Trudeau

The new measures will begin on February 15 and, though similar to the measures surrounding air travel, there are some differences. 

“It is not legal to refuse entry to any Canadian who wants to come home. That is something that is a major difference between land borders and air borders," said Trudeau.

"You can prevent someone from boarding a flight in Miami or elsewhere, you can’t prevent someone who’s standing at a land border from entering Canada because technically they’re already on Canadian soil."

Despite this limitation preventing the government from actually keeping someone out of the country, Canadian border agents can apply severe penalties of up to $3,000 a person, said the prime minister. 

In addition, the government will "ensure a rapid and complete follow up to ensure that they are being tested, that they are being properly quarantined, that they are not putting at risk the safety of other Canadians by returning home without a negative test."