Thursday, 25 February, 2021

Travellers to begin mandatory hotel quarantine measures on February 22, Trudeau says

New restrictions outlined for land and air travelers Mandatory tests and hotel quarantines set to come into effect: a look at how it works
Sandy Nunez | 14 February, 2021, 21:22

Canada's chief public health officer said provinces and territories must not let their guard down against COVID-19, particularly as more serious variants of the novel coronavirus are circulating.

Travel restrictions for air travelers will go into effect on February 22, and will require a molecular test prior to exiting the airport and a second test toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.

But officials said Friday a new requirement that those arriving at the land border must have a negative COVID-19 test taken in the USA within 72 hours of their arrival is created to blunt that option.

The hotel stays and testing are at the expense of the traveler, with the former expected to cost upward of $2,000 per person.

These protocols are in addition to the negative COVID-19 test result required to board a flight to Canada in the first place, a rule implemented on January 7 that has now also been extended to those crossing into the country by land.

The agency noted "the number of Canadian residents returning from overseas via these same airports appeared to increase steadily toward the end of the month".

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says there has been a dramatic drop in the number of non-essential travellers since the announcement was first made.

The government had previously announced incoming travellers will have to pay the cost of a 72-hour hotel stay and a COVID-19 test.

Some snowbirds are flying back before a hotel stay is mandatory.

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"Putting these additional measures in place is a true team effort", said the Prime Minister.

So far there has only been one report of the variant first found in Brazil.

The government had announced the plan for the new border controls last month but more details on how they will work, and when they'll begin, were laid out Friday. Those who are symptomatic may be required by law to enter a designated quarantine facility.

She did not specify which provinces have reported the cases of the variants. "This will help to prevent these variants from reaccelerating the epidemic and making it much more hard to control". Another test will be required near the end of their 14-day quarantine period.

People in quarantine are not allowed to leave their rooms, meals are delivered at staggered times to avoid everyone opening their doors at the same time and hotel staff must wear N95s.

While Canada has contracted for far more vaccines than it needs to cover its population, they have been slow to arrive, frustrating many who see a faster rollout in the neighboring U.S.

Between April and June, Canada should receive an additional 10.8-million doses of Pfizer's vaccine, Trudeau added.

'I think the president has been clear publicly and certainly privately when the conversation comes up that his focus now is on ensuring that the American people are vaccinated, ' White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about Canada on Friday.

Trudeau also said Canada is buying another 4 million Moderna vaccines and is looking at the possibility of getting vaccines from India.