OTTAWA – Canada has increased efforts to keep COVID-19 out of the country. Today Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said that plans to require air travellers to test negative for COVID-19 before landing in Canada are being implemented.
LeBlanc confirmed that cabinet ministers decided this morning to quickly enact the new requirement, under which all passengers on flights entering Canada will require a negative PCR test three days before their arrival.
LeBlanc didn’t say when the requirement will be in place.
Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health says, “COVID-19 continues to put pressure on health care workers across the country. We all need to avoid non-essential travel and follow mandatory quarantine requirements upon return – they keep you, your loved ones, and communities safe. With information provided upon entry in Canada and follow-ups done, there are no reasons not to respect this mandatory requirement.”
The Government of Canada continues to advise against non-essential travel and reminds all travellers returning to Canada that contravening the mandatory quarantine can lead to severe penalties. Restrictions are changing quickly and may be imposed by countries with little warning. Those who choose to travel may be forced to remain outside of Canada longer than expected.
“Keeping Canadians healthy and safe is our number one priority. That’s why we’ve implemented some of the strongest border measures in the world and why we continue to work together with our provincial, territorial, and local law enforcement partners to ensure travellers are following quarantine rules. We will continue to evaluate the measures that are in place and test new methods to keep Canadians safe as the global situation evolves,” says Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
The travel restrictions and border measures in place in Canada since March 2020 are working – travel volumes are down 90% at airports compared to the previous year and only around 2% of all known COVID-19 cases in Canada have originated from travel outside the country. With a 14-day mandatory quarantine in place for most travellers coming into Canada, our border measures are some of the strongest in the world.
Since March 2020, more resources have been deployed at the borders. Today, more than 180 public health officers are present at points of entry across the country. Travellers’ quarantine plans are verified upon their entry into Canada. Over 4,600 calls are made every day to verify travellers’ compliance with these mandatory requirements and, when needed, cases are referred to law enforcement.
To date, 98.8% of the 41,103 interventions by law enforcement have resulted in compliance by travellers. However, in a minority of cases, verbal warnings (185), written warnings (20), tickets (130), and charges (8) have been issued.
The Government of Canada will continue to use science and evidence to inform any next steps on border measures. A study is ongoing in Alberta and similar ones are being developed in Ontario and Québec.