As 2020 wound down, Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced that effective Jan. 7, 2021 at 12:01 am EST, all air passengers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada.
In making the announcement, Garneau indicated that the implementation date provides all airlines, both foreign and domestic, adequate time to comply with the new requirements.
Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada.
The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.
Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Transport Minister Garneau said: “Our government remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians. These new measures will provide another layer of protection for Canadians as we continue to assess public health risks and work to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.”
The announcement of the implementation of the new measures also stated that Canadians who are currently travelling and returning to Canada soon should start immediately arranging for a COVID-19 test, to avoid a delay in their return to Canada. Canadians who are planning to travel abroad should consider how they will meet these requirements before departure.
The Government of Canada will be further increasing surveillance efforts to ensure travellers entering Canada complete the applicable mandatory 14-day quarantine period under the Quarantine Act.
As has been the case for months, all travellers will have their quarantine plans reviewed by a government official and, if not suitable, will be required to quarantine in a federal quarantine facility.
Travellers to Canada must use the ArriveCAN App or website and provide accurate contact information and their mandatory 14-day quarantine plan on or before entry.
Violating any instructions provided when you enter Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair stated that: “As the global situation evolves, we continue to work with our partners to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 into Canada at all international ports of entry.”
But the Minister emphasized that: “The new testing requirement is an additional layer of protection that helps make Canada’s border make measures among the strongest in the world. The testing regime is not a replacement for the legal requirement to quarantine, which remains our strongest defence against the spread of the virus.”
What The Federal Government Announced On Dec 30
Intergovernmental affairs minister, Dominic LeBlanc advised on Dec. 30 that Canada will be requiring all arriving air passengers to have a negative PCR COVID-19 test three days before arriving in Canada.
And LeBlanc indicated that the new requirement will be implemented quickly.
Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair said that the move is in keeping with Canada’s ongoing “strong action to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our country.”
Blair observed that: “To that end we have implemented some of the strongest border measures in the world. Today, we want to reinforce a very simple, but important message. We strongly advise against travel unless it is absolutely necessary.”
The Public Safety Minister continued: “The federal government, in fact no government in Canada, can prevent Canadians from travelling, but I want to be very clear, we strongly advise Canadians against all discretionary travel and, if you must travel, understand that upon your return to Canada you must follow guidelines and quarantine for 14 days.”
He also emphasized that: “It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the law. And if you do not follow the requirements, it can result in significant consequences.”
“Let me walk you through that process,” Blair continued. “First, before you board a flight home to Canada, the airlines are responsible for making sure that all passengers onboard their aircraft are not exhibiting symptoms, nor have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19.”
He explained that: “Travellers who enter Canada by air, land or marine modes – unless exempted – will also be required to submit information to ArriveCan or by calling the toll-free number during the quarantine or isolation period.”
Said Blair: “When you arrive at the border, you’ll be subject to strict screening and security measures. We have significantly increased the presence of our CBSA officers at our international airports to ensure that travellers understand their quarantine obligations and to verify the travellers’ quarantine plan.”
The Minister of Public Safety also pointed out: “Our quarantine requirement is our strongest and most effective measure – it is among the strongest in the world. On the rare occasion that someone brings COVID-19 into Canada when they are in quarantine, the virus stops there; it does not spread further into the community.”
He continued: “So, no matter where you are coming from or where you enter Canada, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Your compliance with these requirements will be verified regularly and, if needed, your case can be referred to law enforcement in cases of non-compliance.”
“And let me be very clear, Blair said, if you violate quarantine you can face up to 6 months in jail or up to $750,000 in fines; but far more importantly, you will put your family, your friends and your community at risk.”
Blair stated: “Now we know that some Canadians have travelled out of the country for non-essential purposes despite the clear public health guidance asking them not to do so, these Canadians, of course, have a right to return home but when they come back they have a responsibility – both legal and moral – to quarantine for 14 days. Unfortunately, it only takes a few people who break quarantines to spread the virus to the community and beyond.”
The Minister also pointed out that: “We only need to look at the COVID variant recently identified in the United Kingdom which is now in Canada to understand why … And that is why, we’re urging all Canadians to please be responsible, be sensible and care about your fellow citizens. The rules only protect us if we all follow them.”
The Public Safety Minister pointed out that: “This is an ever-evolving pandemic … I’d like to remind Canadians that restrictions are changing quickly and they may be imposed by Canada or other countries with little warning and as circumstances require.”
Said the Minister: “If you choose to travel you may be forced to remain outside of Canada longer than you anticipated. For our part, the government of Canada will take every appropriate measure we can to protect our citizens at the border.”
Blair indicated that the Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau will be discussing the new requirements with airlines as to how the process will work.
Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qie0xyTX3vM to see the announcement of the new measures.