On March 25, Canada implemented an emergency order under the Quarantine Act requiring all travelers from overseas – excluding asymptomatic essential workers – to be quarantined for 14 days with or without symptoms.
Failure to follow this rule can result in a fine of up to $ 750,000 or imprisonment for six months, or both. If a person causes “a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm while willfully or recklessly contravene this Act or the regulations”, they may be liable to a fine of up to $ 1 million or up to three years. prison, or both, according to the Government of Canada website.
The order requires travelers to go immediately to their quarantine location without coming into contact with people, unless they are staying at one of the federal quarantine sites, and only leave their homes for medical services urgent.
The Government of Alberta announced last Thursday that it is working with Ottawa on a new pilot program at Calgary International Airport that will use improved rapid tests to shorten the 14-day quarantine period.
The tests will be administered at the airport and travelers will be required to self-isolate for 24 to 48 hours until they get their results. If their result is negative, they can return to the community while wearing a mask and physically distancing themselves. After the seventh day, they have to take a second test and if they are negative again, they can go about their lives as usual.
“This is an important step in Alberta’s recovery plan. This new pilot program will give those who have to travel for work a safe path to a shorter quarantine period, ”Premier Jason Kenney said at a press conference that day.
“We cannot turn our backs on the travel industry or the tourism industry. ”
It comes as the airline industry increasingly calls on the federal government to relax quarantine rules to encourage air travel amid the pandemic. WestJet announced earlier this month that it would seize operations in four cities in Atlantic Canada, in part due to provincial mandatory isolation rules.
WestJet Airlines CEO Ed Sims praised the news of the pilot program.
“This is the first good news we’ve received since February,” Sims said Thursday. “WestJet advocates a scientific rapid test solution to help safely alleviate quarantine requirements. ”
CTV News infectious disease specialist Dr Abdu Sharkawy told CTV’s Power Play show that it would be a program to watch, but warned that science still shows people can show symptoms during the second week of isolation.
“I guess I’m concerned about the proverbial devil in the details here. We all know you can be exposed to COVID-19 and still not show symptoms or develop a positive test for several days, so how close will surveillance be? be? ” he said. “We rely a lot on what’s called the honor system. ”
With a file from Jordan Kanygin of CTV News Calgary