December 2, 2021

Omicron Variant: A New Development in the Fight Against COVID-19

Posted by Legal Team - Bellissimo Law Group PC

On 28 November 2021, the Ontario government confirmed that the first two cases of the new Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of the coronavirus were detected in the federal capital, Ottawa.[1] This new strain of the virus was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on 24 November 2021 by the South African government.[2] While little is known whether this strain is more dangerous or transmissible that those we’ve seen before (i.e., Delta – B.1.617.2), the Government of Canada has been quick to react. New border measures were implemented by the minister of transport, Omar Alghabra and the minister of health, Jean-Yves Duclos on 26 November 2021 in an aim to pre-empt the spread of the virus in Canada. Specifically, the government has created more stringent border measures for all individuals who have been in the southern African region within 14 days of entering Canada. Specifically, this includes the following countries:

  • South Africa;
  • Eswatini;
  • Lesotho;
  • Botswana;
  • Zimbabwe;
  • Mozambique, and;
  • Namibia.

The measures include the following:

  1. Foreign nationals who have been in any of the above noted countries will NOT be allowed to enter Canada;[3]
  2. Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and individuals under the status of the Indian Act who have been in any of the above noted countries will be required to provide and abide by more rigorous quarantine, testing, and screening measures no matter what their vaccination status is.[4]
    1. These individuals will have to provide a negative COVID-19 molecular test that was taken within the previous 72 hours of departure from any country previously mentioned as well as take a test upon arrival into Canada. Before being allowed to go to their private quarantine location, they will have to wait at a designated quarantine facility until the arrival test result is brought back as negative. Furthermore, they will need to take a third test on day 8 of being in the country while quarantining for 14 days. Individuals will need to have a suitable quarantine plan upon arrival that will be approved by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). [5]

While the situation concerning the new Omicron variant is still in its early stages, we continue to monitor the situation and hope that this new development does not bring further delays to Canadian immigration proceedings albeit putting Canadians and all immigrants and refugees’ health and safety at the forefront.