Special flight to repatriate Canadians leaves Merida on Tuesday

Financial measures will also be announced to help Canadians cope with the economic fallout

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Standing in front of his residence, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks Friday during a news conference on COVID-19 situation in Canada. Photo: Getty

Seats were still available this morning on a WestJet flight from Merida to Toronto Pearson as the Canadian government works to get its citizens home.

Flight 2793 will depart Merida on Tuesday at 1:35 p.m., landing at 7:38.

Canadians will be expected to pay a “responsible ticket price” for their flight home, Trudeau said.

While closing the border to visitors in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has encouraged expats “to come home.” After first limiting inbound flights, Canada is now working with airlines to repatriate Canadians still abroad.

Canadians with symptoms of the virus will not be allowed to board flights, while those who are allowed to fly home must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.

Canadians unable to get on a flight home were encouraged to apply for an emergency government loan of up to $5,000 to help cover expenses they incur while abroad.

“We won’t be able to reach everyone but we’re going to do our best to help those we can,” Trudeau told reporters from outside his residence in Ottawa, where he is self-isolating after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for the virus.

Canadians can decide for themselves if they’d rather stay abroad or return. Yucatan’s 17th confirmed Coronavirus case was announced Saturday, while another 10 tests are pending. All the cases are considered mild. Mexico has registered two deaths from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, out of 251 cases.

Canada has more than 1,200 confirmed cases and at least 19 deaths.

China remains the country with the most cases (81,000), despite three consecutive days without new infections. It is followed by Italy, with 47,000 cases, and Spain with around 25,000.

“Everyone needs to take the best decisions for them. Obviously if they are not certain they are going to be getting on a flight, they’re probably better to stay in place,” Trudeau said.

The Prime Minister encouraged all Canadians abroad to register with Global Affairs Canada so the government can communicate with them. Ottawa is working with telecom companies to send mass text messages to Canadians abroad, reaching hundreds of thousands of people over the past few days.

Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the government is focusing repatriation flight efforts on “hot spots” where airspace and border closures prevent anyone from leaving the country.

Special flights from Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, for expats living there, already sold out as of Sunday.

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