Travellers to Canada, including international students, are set for more aggressive test and quarantine rules in the coming weeks as part of the Trudeau government’s bid to clamp down more contagious variants of the coronavirus. Returnees will have to undergo mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing at the airport upon arrival, on top of the pre-boarding test Canada already requires. This is set to take place “as soon as possible in February,” prime minister Justin Trudeau announced on Jan. 29, 2021. Those who test negative will be required to self-quarantine for two weeks, AP reported. Another test will be required on the 10th day after people return.
“Travelers will then have to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than 2,000 Canadian dollars,” Trudeau said. The hotel stay, around US$1,563 at the time of writing, will cover the cost of a private PCR test, food, security and other measures hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe. ‘The cost is a ballparking. This isn´t like any other facility,” says Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada´s chief public health officer. “This is one where there has to be infection prevention control measures, security and other costs as well. It´s not just a regular stay at a hotel.” Those testing positive will be immediately quarantined in designated government facilities.
Those with negative test results can quarantine at home “under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement.” Screening officers will visit travellers’ quarantine locations to establish contact, confirm identity and confirm that travellers are at the place of quarantine they identified upon entry into Canada.
Effective midnight (11:59 PM EST) Feb. 3, 2021, all international commercial passenger flights will be funnelled into four Canadian airports: Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport. “The new restrictions will include scheduled commercial passenger flights arriving from the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, which were exempted from the previous restriction. Private/Business and charter flights from all countries will also be required to land at the four airports,” according to the Canadian govenrment website. More details will be available in the coming days.
Since last March, Canada’s borders have been closed to foreign travellers who do not have essential reasons to enter. Those currently entering the country only have to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days before arrival and romise they will self-isolate for 14 days. Canada has so far recorded 778,972 cases, 20,032 deaths and 705,659 recoveries as at Jan. 31, 2021. However, it is now facing a second wave of coronavirus, which threatens to overwhelm some hospitals.
China bans entry of travellers from Canada
All foreign nationals travelling from Canada, even those with current residency permits, will now be temporarily barred from entry to China. China has temporarily blocked entry to foreign national travelling from Canada, even those with current residency permits, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa said. “In view of the current Covid-19 situation and the need of epidemic prevention and control… all foreign nationals who hold valid Chinese residence permits for work, personal matters and reunion are temporarily not allowed to enter China from Canada,” the Chinese embassy in Ottawa said in a statement Jan. 30, 2021. “The suspension is a temporary measure that China has to take in light of the current pandemic situation,” the statement added.