Coronavirus: How is the Outbreak Affecting Everyday Life Across Canada?

An essential list of new safety measures, policy changes and cancellations across the country.

A woman puts up a closed sign in a shop window.Photo: Shutterstock

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Canada and around the world continues to affect everything from our vacation plans to our coffee breaks. As doctors, businesses and governments work to stop the deadly outbreak, here is a list of new and notable safety measures, policy changes and cancellations across the country.


  • On March 16, WestJet announced it would suspend all international and transborder flights, including those to the US. The suspension will begin March 22 at 11:59 p.m. MDT, and will last for 30 days. The airline is also reducing its domestic flights by 50 percent. If you need to change or cancel your flight, you can now do it with zero fees.
  • If you booked with Air Canada on or before March 4, you can cancel your trip without paying a fee—providing it was scheduled to take place before the end of April. If you booked after March 4, you can cancel your trip up to two hours prior to your departure and have your fees waived.
  • Air Transat will waive rebooking fees for all flights and travel packages purchased in March—so long as you change your travel dates, hotel, or destination 24 hours prior to your scheduled departure.
  • After March 20, Porter will suspend all of its flights. The airline plans to resume service June 1. In the meantime, it has waived all of its fees for changes and cancellations.

Shops and restaurants

Nursing homes

Is it safe to visit your friends and loved ones who are living in care centres? Usually, but take precautions, say nursing homes and experts. Some health professionals say loneliness is more dangerous to seniors than COVID-19, warning that social distancing can have long-term ramifications. Also be sure to follow common sense precautions, like washing your hands and not visiting while you’re sick, and check in to make sure the care centre is receiving visitors before you trek out. If an in-person visit isn’t possible, call to catch-up.

Community centres and gyms

Sporting events

Grocery stores


The House of Commons announced a five-week shutdown on March 13. The move follows news that Sophie Grégoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement, she urged Canadians to “Please share the facts and take your health seriously,” adding “I send you all my courage and warm thoughts (but only “get better” hugs from afar!).”  The prime minister is planning to briefly recall Parliament to pass emergency legislation—date TDB.



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