Q TRAVEL (CBC.ca) Air passengers entering Canada will soon need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before arriving in the country, the federal government announced today.
Under the new protocol, travelers must receive a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within a 72-hour period prior to boarding a plane. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he expects the new rule will be in force within a week.
The measure does not replace the federal government’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair warned.
“This is not an alternative to quarantine. It’s an additional layer,” Blair said during a public health briefing.
He said Ottawa is discussing implementing more testing protocols at land points of entry with a number of provincial health authorities, but added that effort involves “issues of some complexity” the government is still working through.
The federal government hasn’t fully explained how the pre-boarding testing will be administered to incoming travelers, though Transport Minister Marc Garneau — who is in talks with airlines and officials in his department — is expected to share more details Thursday. Canada will require travelers arriving in the country to present a negative covid-19 test dated less than three days, several ministers announced Wednesday during a press conference.
The government will require an “additional measure that will require all passengers arriving in Canada to undergo a negative covid-19 test,” said Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Travelers unable to get tested won’t be left behind
In an interview with CBC News, LeBlanc said it will be up to travelers to arrange for PCR tests themselves, given that those embarking on non-essential trips overseas have chosen already to flout public health guidelines.
“The Government of Canada obviously is not in a position to set up in hotels or all-inclusive resorts or Canadian consulates,” he said.
Travelers who are unable to procure tests before their flights home won’t be stranded abroad, LeBlanc said. Immediately upon their return to Canada, he said, those passengers will be required to isolate at federally-approved sites until they obtain negative test results and meet other quarantine commitments.
The minister said it would be “irresponsible” for any Canadian traveler to sidestep the testing requirements.
Border agency boosts airport presence
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will also be beefing up its presence at airports across Canada to ensure travelers are adhering to public health guidelines, Blair said.
“Additional border officers will be present at various positions to reinforce compliance messaging,” the minister said, adding that teams already have been sent to customs and baggage areas and inspection lines to speak to travelers about their obligations — and the consequences of failing to follow the rules.
The federal government has advised against non-essential travel outside Canada since the start of the pandemic, though officials noted Wednesday that about two percent of COVID-19 cases have been brought into the country from overseas.