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Ottawa extends rules and restrictions for travelers amid rising COVID-19 case counts

The federal government says it's extending a slew of travel restrictions and rules meant to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic into the new year as case counts continue their steady rise across the country.
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Maimonides Geriatric Centre is shown in Montreal, Sunday, November 29, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

The federal government says it's extending a slew of travel restrictions and rules meant to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic into the new year as case counts continue their steady rise across the country. 

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu say the rules, first imposed near the beginning of the global outbreak, will now be in effect until Jan. 21, 2021 for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States. 

The ministers say restrictions for visitors crossing the border from the U.S. are currently in place until Dec. 21, but may be extended. 

Among the rules is a requirement for anyone entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry into Canada. 

But the ministers also say they're looking to make it possible for "high-performance, amateur sporting organizations" to  hold major international events on Canadian soil. 

They say the successful applicants would need to present a public health plan as well as show they've secured the support of provincial and territorial governments and health authorities. 

The announcement comes as COVID-19 case counts continued to mount, though at levels slightly below the record-setting daily tallies seen in several regions in recent weeks. 

Public health officials in Quebec are reporting 1,395 new cases in the past 24 hours, while Ontario is reporting 1,708 new infections.

The provincial totals since the pandemic began now stand at 141,038 and 114,746, respectively.

Cases are also rising steadily in Atlantic Canada, with New Brunswick reporting 14 new diagnoses on Sunday and Newfoundland and Labrador recording four additional infections.

Public health officials in Nova Scotia logged 10 new cases, all in the province's central zone, which includes Halifax.

Authorities in Manitoba reported 365 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 11 new deaths -- almost all of which were linked to outbreaks in care homes.

The case count in Nunavut also rose by 13.

Canada's top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the highest rate of infection is among people aged 80 and over, while more outbreaks are happening in long-term care homes.

Both Quebec and Manitoba are reporting new, significant outbreaks at such facilities. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press