Air Canada suspends flights to Italy, which has declared a nationwide quarantine

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      As the entire nation of Italy has been placed under quarantine measures, the Canadian government and Air Canada acted in response.

      Today (March 10), the federal government raised the health travel risk level for Italy, which has been raised to Level 2 (practice special precautions) on March 2, to Level 3, or avoid non-essential travel.

      Air Canada announced today (March 10) that it is suspending all of its flights between Canada and Italy as of March 11.

      The last Air Canada flight to depart from Canada will be tonight from Toronto to Rome while the final returning flight from the country will be from Rome to Montreal on March 11.

      The company is contacting affected customers, who are being offered other travel options or a refund.

      Flights are being suspended until May 1, and the airline company will monitor the situation before service resumes.

      While the Canadian federal government had previously issued a travel advisory to avoid non-essential travel to Northern Italy, the northern region was placed under lockdown on March 8.

      However, on March 9, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the quarantine would extend to encompass the entire country. The measures include travel restrictions, a ban on public events, the closures of educational institutions and public spaces, and religious services being suspended, including weddings and funerals.

      Italy surpassed South Korea (which has over 7,500 cases) with its number of cases surging over 10,100 to become the location with the most cases outside mainland China.

      Previously in the wake of the federal government’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel to mainland China, Air Canada announced on January 29 that it was suspending all of its direct flights from Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal to Beijing and Shanghai.

      Japan and South Korea are listed at Level 2 for travel health risks. However, South Korea’s Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do province (North Gyeongsang) are listed at Level 3, due to widespread transmission of the virus in the region.

      A B.C. case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 9 was linked to travel to Italy while other B.C. cases have been linked to travel to Iran (listed as Level 3, or avoid non-essential travel), India, China, and the U.S. 

      B.C. currently has 32 confirmed cases.

      For more information about COVID-19, visit the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook