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Canada to require negative tests from all air travellers before arrival

Canada to require negative tests from all air travellers before arrival

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

OTTAWA -- The federal government is set to "quickly implement" a new requirement for all arriving passengers to test negative for COVID-19 prior to arriving in Canada. The news was made today, Dec.

30, by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc following a Covid Cabinet Committee meeting this morning. The new rule, which is expected to come into effect in the next few days, will see all passengers on flights entering Canada to require a negative PCR test three days before their arrival.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair stressed that the new rule is "not an alternative" to Canada's 14-day quarantine but rather an "additional layer of protection." "The measures that are contemplated by the Minister of Transport to require pre-boarding testing and verification of that testing are in addition to the quarantine measures," said Blair. "Once in place, those measures will enhance our efforts to keep people safe and not offer an alternative to the all-important quarantine period." Blair confirmed that Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau will be engaging with the airline industry regarding the new requirement and additional details will be made available shortly on how it will be implemented.

Blair also confirmed that discussions are taking place regarding a testing pilot program at Toronto Pearson International Airport, similar to the pilot program already underway in Calgary Airport. "This pilot explores how a testing and monitoring program can be used as an additional layer of defense against the spread of COVID-19," he added. "Work is well underway between the provinces, CBSA and our public health officials about testing at additional locations, and we look forward to sharing more details as these pilots are completed." Canada's 14-day quarantine has long been regarded as the biggest hurdle to the travel industry's recovery, with organizations like ACTA and IATA calling for the federal government to reduce the isolation period.

Blair noted: "In our discussions with the province, we have heard some desire to use an entry testing regime to reduce the length of mandatory quarantine for travellers. "I believe at the current time, we should only be considering testing as an additional measure of a layer of defense against the illness coming into the country." Ontario set a new daily record for cases today with 2,923, with just over one-third of them in the country's largest city of Toronto.

Neighbouring Quebec is reporting 2,511 new cases of COVID-19 and 41 more deaths. Today's announcement about the new pre-testing requirement follows criticism that federal travel restrictions and quarantine rules have been too lax. It also comes as Ontario's finance minister finds himself in hot water over travelling out of the country despite Canadians being asked to avoid such trips.

With files from The Canadian Press

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