Very few cars passed through the U.S. border the Peace Arch port of entry, located in South Surrey, Sunday morning. (Aaron Hinks photo)

CBSA shares its ‘risk based approach’ at ports of entry due to COVID-19

Traffic at Peace Arch border crossing was minimal Sunday

The Canada Border Services Agency said it stepped up screening procedures as a way to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed concerns raised by some travellers that they were not screened as they crossed the border into Canada.

“They were not coming from a place of concern and therefore there were different protocols,” Trudeau said in an interview with CTV News.

Sunday, Peace Arch News observed very few southbound and northbound vehicles crossing the Peace Arch border. Over a 10 minute period, approximately six southbound vehicles crossed the border into the U.S., about half of which had B.C. licence plates.

Border officials released a statement to PAN Friday advising of the steps of its “risk based approach” to process travellers from around the world.

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“Rest assured the CBSA is committed to its role of protecting Canadians and our officers remain vigilant and stand determined to identify travellers seeking entry into Canada who may pose a health and safety risk,” the statement read. “Travellers – no matter their country of origin – are assessed on arrival to Canada.”

The CBSA statement notes that screening alone is not a guarantee against the possible spread of the new virus, but it’s an important tool during “periods of uncertainty.”

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The CBSA listed measures that have been implemented at all Canadian ports of entry, including air, land, rail and marine. The measures include:

– Identify any travellers returning to Canada who may be ill.

– Raise awareness among travellers about what they should do if they become sick.

Additional measures that we have taken in response to this outbreak include:

– Providing instructions for travellers who have been to locations classified at level 3 on the Travel Health Notice webpage, including the Province of Hubei, China; Iran; or Italy to monitor themselves for symptoms, to self-isolate at home for 14 days, and to contact local public health authorities in their area if they develop symptoms within 14 days.

– Playing additional signage to raise traveller awareness at airports.

– Offering travellers a general COVID-19 information handout at all ports of entry.

– Using health screening questions to identify travellers of concern.

– Providing travellers of concern a mask kit consisting of a surgical mask and one-page instructions on how to use a surgical mask.

– Working with the support of Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) officers to screen travellers who may pose a risk.

– Screening of travellers who may be unwell in the customs hall and at ports of entry.

The statement says that measures complement routine traveller screening procedures already in place to prepare for, detect and respond to the spread of serious infectious diseases into and within Canada.

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