Travelers must undergo a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of boarding a plane – a requirement, according to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, will be in place “quickly,” although ‘he did not provide an exact date. The measure does not replace the federal government’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has warned.
“It’s not an alternative to quarantine. It’s an extra layer, ”Blair said at a public health briefing.
The federal government has yet to explain in detail how pre-boarding tests will be administered to inbound travelers.
“This information will be made available very soon by (Transport Minister Marc Garneau), who is currently working with airlines and officials in his department to move these measures forward as quickly as possible,” Blair said.
Lack of information ’causes panic’, say conservatives
Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner slammed the Liberal government over the timing of the announcement and said the lack of political details would cause anxiety and confusion for Canadians abroad .
“I am happy to hear that the Trudeau Liberals are finally following our advice and are considering implementing testing protocols for international travelers returning to Canada,” she said in a statement.
“However, the lack of details surrounding this announcement is causing panic among Canadians currently abroad. The government has had months to put a system in place and today presented a random ad that is a headline response rather than a real thoughtful and transparent plan. ”
Where can Canadians currently abroad obtain information on this new requirement? Will the federal government provide a portal or will this responsibility also shift to airlines that are already stranded?
Speaking in French, LeBlanc suggested that people vacationing in places like Florida or the Caribbean try to find a place to get tested before preparing for their return.
It is unclear how pre-boarding testing will affect people participating in the Alberta Pilot Project for International Travelers, which allows people to exit quarantine if they are tested negative after returning to Canada.
Blair said the purpose of the new requirement is not to shorten the length of mandatory quarantines and that it is “important not to confuse the two issues.”
He said Ottawa was discussing the implementation of more testing protocols at land ports of entry with a number of provincial health authorities, but added that the effort involves “issues of a certain complexity ”that the government is still working on.
The border agency strengthens the airport presence
The additional measure comes as Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips comes under fire on news of his trip to the Caribbean island of St. Bartholomew for a personal vacation earlier this month. Phillips is on his way back to Canada after Ontario Premier Doug Ford demanded his return.
Quebec Liberal MP Pierre Arcand was also criticized for visiting Barbados over the holidays, a trip Arcand deplores today.
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will also be stepping up its presence at airports across Canada to ensure travelers adhere to public health guidelines, Blair said.
“Additional border officers will be present at various posts to reinforce compliance messages,” the minister said, adding that teams have already been dispatched to customs and baggage areas and inspection lines to talk to travelers about their obligations – and the consequences of non-compliance. the rules.
The federal government has advised against non-essential travel outside of Canada since the start of the pandemic, although officials noted on Wednesday that about 2% of COVID-19 cases had been brought into the country from abroad.