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Flights to Caribbean, Mexico halted by four major Canadian airlines as of Sunday

Last Updated Jan 31, 2021 at 8:28 am PST

A man makes his way through Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, December 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

OTTAWA — Four of Canada’s major airlines have suspended service to Mexico and the Caribbean as of Sunday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat had agreed to the measure in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The restriction will last until April 30, and Trudeau says the airlines will help arrange the return of customers currently on a trip.

It’s one of a suite of new government measures aimed at preventing Canadians from travelling abroad in the doldrums of February and throughout spring break.

For instance, starting first thing Thursday, all international passenger flights must land at only four airports – in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal.

And in the coming weeks, all air travellers arriving in Canada will have to stay at a government-approved hotel for three nights and take a COVID-19 test – all at their own cost which could total more than $2000.

When asked why it would cost so much, Trudeau said non-essential travellers would have to pay for the cost of testing from a private company, along with additional hotel expenses to ensure workers are safe.

“We will have to go to private tests, obviously we don’t want to prevent other Canadians from being tested because of these travellers. So travellers will pay for these tests and be required to wait up to three days to receive the results,” he explained.

Ontario is also moving move forward with passenger testing at Pearson Airport despite a similar federal program. Under the Ford government’s plan, all international travellers will take a COVID-19 test on arrival starting Monday, February 1 at 12:01 p.m.

As part of the province’s new a six-point plan – which was also announced Friday – the new testing measures will soon apply to the province’s land border crossings to the United States, however, no date has been set.