Canada’s Quarantine Act Means Fines & Jail Time For People Who Won't Self-Isolate

The latest rules will kick in at midnight on Wednesday.
What Is The Quarantine Act? Canada Is Stepping Up Efforts To Curb COVID-19
Senior Editor

On Wednesday, March 25, the federal government stepped up its measures to control the spread of COVID-19 within the country. Its latest move, which includes implementing mandatory isolation, has had many people wondering what is the Quarantine Act? Canada has a number of questions about the resulting protocols, and the answers look like this.

In an announcement on Wednesday afternoon, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister confirmed that the federal government would be enacting measures in the Quarantine Act in order to introduce a mandatory isolation period.

Since the start of the outbreak, the government has been urging those who have travelled outside of Canada to remain in self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.

Despite health officials pleading with the public to listen to this advice, the government has been unable to force Canadians to follow their recommendations.

Until now, that is.

By invoking the Quarantine Act, officials have the power to enforce a self-isolation period and give penalties to those who refuse to follow the rules.

After initially just threatening more stringent measures, it seems that the federal government has had enough, and they’re implementing stronger measures to ensure the latest COVID-19 protocols are followed.

With the latest rules kicking in at 12:00 a.m. on Thursday morning, here are your Quarantine Act questions answered.

What Is The Quarantine Act?

The Quarantine Act is a law that was passed by the federal government in 2005. It allows officials to take stronger and more definitive action to "prevent the introduction and spread of communi­cable diseases."

Basically, they have the power to enforce fines and jail time if Canadians fail to follow the latest COVID-19 protocols.

What Will People Have To Do?

Starting on Thursday morning, anybody entering Canada from abroad will be required to self-isolate at home for at least 14 days.

During this two-week isolation period, they are unable to leave their home, and cannot have face-to-face interaction with anybody else.

All travellers will be required to present to a screening officer when they arrive at a Canadian border, and they’ll have to do the same when leaving the country.

They will be required to answer questions about their recent travel plans, and if they have any symptoms of illness.

These things will become mandatory, which means they are now a legal obligation.

What Are The Penalties?

For starters, you can be denied entry into the country.

A quarantine officer can require you to undergo a health assessment if they have reasonable grounds to believe you may be ill or have been in contact with somebody who is.

If you fail to comply with the latest rules at the border, a peace officer may arrest you without a warrant, and take you to a quarantine officer.

You may be detained by a quarantine officer particularly if you have refused to undergo a health assessment or failed to comply with border requirements.

You could even face jail time of up to six months and a fine of up to $200,000.

Why Do We Need It?

Simply, we need it because some Canadians have not been following the government’s health advice with regard to self-isolation and social distancing.

For this reason, it made its recommendations mandatory, so you can be penalized if you chose to disregard them.

When Does It Start?

It starts at 12:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 25, 2020.

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Helena Hanson
Senior Editor
Helena Hanson is a Senior Editor for Narcity Media, leading the Travel and Money teams. She previously lived in Ottawa, but is now based in the U.K.