Canada shuts Parliament, Trudeau in quarantine, no travel
Toronto – Canada shut down Parliament and advised against all nonessential travel outside the country while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau governed remotely from his home, in self-imposed quarantine after his wife tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, also advised more social distancing, no handshakes and kisses.
The Canadian government is advising the cancellation of all large events like concerts. Transport Minister Marc Garneau said cruise ships with more than 500 people will not be able to dock in Canada until July 1.
Overseas flights returning to Canada will also be restricted to a small number of airports in the country.
Canada’s House of Commons voted to shut down for at least five weeks to help ensure lawmakers do not contribute to the spread of the virus.
The moves came a day after Trudeau’s wife tested positive. The prime minister himself has been in self-imposed quarantine.
All parties in Parliament agreed to the suspension, which means lawmakers will miss two weeks of sessions since they had previously planned to be away next week and two weeks in April. The House is scheduled to next meet on Monday, April 20.
“This just shows you how seriously our government and members of the house are taking this,” Government House leader Pablo Rodriguez said.
Part of the deal for closing Parliament for five weeks was ratifying the new North American Free Trade Agreement. Rodriguez said lawmakers have passed legislation to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and the Senate is expected to follow suit later Friday.
The suspension of the House of Commons means the federal budget won’t be presented March 30 as Finance Minister Bill Morneau had promised. Rodriguez said the federal budget will be announced at a later date.
Trudeau was quarantining himself at home because his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for the new coronavirus after returning from Britain. He said Friday his wife has mild flu-like symptoms but is doing fine. He said neither he nor their three children are showing symptoms.
“She’s getting lots of rest and drinking lots of fluids and we’re paying very close attention to what the medical professionals are saying,” Trudeau said to the CBC.
“I am feeling fine, no symptoms. The kids are all fine, happy to being staying home from school. We’re doing well.”
Trudeau was spending the day in briefings, phone calls and virtual meetings from home, including speaking with other world leaders and joining a special Cabinet committee discussion on the coronavirus. Trudeau spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday.
But Trudeau did cancel an in-person meeting with Canada’s provincial premiers.
The prime minister planned to address the nation later Friday, according to his office.
Trudeau himself had not been tested because he was not showing symptoms, his office said. The doctor’s advice to the prime minister is to continue daily activities while self-monitoring.
Trudeau said his government will likely recommend that Canadians avoid travel outside the country except for essential purposes.
“We are going to be able to get through this if everyone is going to follow the advice of our medical professionals and experts,” Trudeau said to CBC.