Mandatory testing and hotel quarantine rules for travellers are due to go into effect 22FEB, CBC News reports. Travellers arriving on international flights, including from the U.S., must quarantine for three days at their own expense.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make a formal announcement during his COVID update this morning at 11:30 a.m. More details to come.
Updated 12FEB at 1:16 p.m.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that beginning on 22FEB, all air travellers entering Canada will have to reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost while they await results from a COVID-19 molecular test that they must take at the airport upon arrival.
“These measures will come into effect February 22. Their objective is to ensure the safety of Canadians,” said Trudeau during a COVID update from the front steps of Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.
In addition, beginning 15FEB, travellers entering Canada across a land border must also present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of entering the country. This requirement is already in effect for air travellers. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says that 95 per cent of people currently crossing the land border are essential workers, such as truckers and health workers, who are exempt from the requirement.
“Obviously, there will be exceptions for essential travel particularly for truckers and health workers, but for everyone else, people must simply not travel. We won’t allow the irresponsible decisions of a few to imperil everyone. We will do everything that we can to protect people and to master this virus,” said Trudeau.
If a traveller’s test results are negative, they will go home to complete the rest of their mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Minister of Health Minister Patty Hajdu confirmed that travellers will also have to arrange with their local health authorities to take a second PCR test 10 days after the first one. Trudeau said there would be increased enforcement of the quarantine and people can expect visits from security contractors or receive follow-up phone calls.
For people who test positive for COVID, Trudeau had previously indicated they would be transferred to a government isolation facility.
When he originally announced the new measure, Trudeau said the cost to travellers for their hotel quarantine would be up to $2,000 which includes not just the price of accommodation, but also the testing, meals and increased security and sanitation measures required. Families could reduce some of the cost by isolating together in a single room. The cost is for a three-day stay while awaiting test results, but it could be less if the results come back sooner.
Hajdu said that it will be up to arriving travellers to book their own hotel rooms in one of the four cities to which international flights are now funneled: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Once a traveller receives a negative test result, they can connect to other cities across the country.
Passengers will be able to book their hotels online as of 18FEB, said Hajdu, adding that vaccinated individuals are not exempt from quarantine requirements.
In the United States Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people who have received a full course of COVID-19 vaccines skip the standard 14-day quarantine as long as they remain asymptomatic.
Government officials say the new measures are necessary to protect the health and safety of Canadians to prevent further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus into Canada.