Air travelers could wait up to three days in isolation for COVID-19 test result on arrival in Canada – .

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Air travelers could wait up to three days in isolation for COVID-19 test result on arrival in Canada – .


Passengers arrive at Toronto Pearson International Airport on October 15. The Canadian Airports Council said on Wednesday it had yet to see details of new arrival testing rules its members are expected to implement.Fred Lum/le Globe and Mail

Travelers arriving in Canada from countries other than the United States can expect to self-isolate for up to three days while awaiting their COVID-19 test results, as part of Ottawa’s evolving strategy for slow the spread of the Omicron variant.

The new arrival test rule for air travelers was first announced on Tuesday in a series of new measures. However, details of its implementation were still unclear on Wednesday, with the country’s main airports awaiting more information and the government not saying when the rule will be fully in place.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said it was already in force, but the speed of its implementation will vary across the country. The government declined to say on Wednesday where the rule is already in place.

“We are increasing the capacity. In the next few days we will reach full capacity, but the tests have started, ”said Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra.

Omicron’s travel bans in Canada and proof of vaccination rules explained

Mr Duclos said travelers would either undergo a test at the airport or take a test to take home in isolation. He said the expected “service standard” to receive a test result is three days, but at the moment the majority of tests come back within a day. That could change, he warned, as the government increases the number of travelers tested by more than 50%.

“Depending on local circumstances, this could take longer than what has been seen in recent weeks and months,” he said.

The government said the arrival test and isolation rule would apply to all travelers who have stayed in a country other than the United States in the past 14 days – even if they arrive in Canada via the United States

On Wednesday, some of Canada’s busiest airports – Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal – said they had little information about the new rule, with Toronto and Vancouver confirming it was not yet in place.

Vancouver International Airport spokeswoman Alyssa Smith said it would be implemented in “the next few days.” The approximate same time was given by Toronto Pearson Airport spokesperson Tori Gass, who added that all unvaccinated and partially vaccinated international passengers are tested upon arrival.

Random testing of fully vaccinated international travelers is already underway, Ms Gass said, but so far have not been told to self-quarantine.

At Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, spokesperson Eric Forest said they did not yet have all the details “concerning the applicability of the measures announced”. Mr Forest directed The Globe and Mail to the Public Health Agency of Canada when asked if passengers undergoing random testing had ever been ordered to self-isolate while awaiting results of their tests.

The agency did not respond to The Globe’s question on Wednesday.

The Canadian Airports Council has said it is awaiting details, but that the “only operationally feasible way” to test all international travelers is to provide off-site testing.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the government “will ensure that our airports, our front line officers, can handle the volume.” Data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that more than 200,000 business travelers have entered the country every week since October. That number has increased dramatically in recent weeks, with 262,581 arriving between November 15 and 21.

The rapidly changing rules are confusing travelers. Since Friday, the government has twice tightened restrictions on international travel, including banning foreign nationals from 10 African countries where Omicron has been detected. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the testing and quarantine measures are very important given the “great concern” surrounding the new variant, but he criticized the government for “a lack of consistency and clarity at a time when this is what we need ”.

“We need a clear plan on what the testing will be and how it will work,” he said.

Mr Singh also said there was no clear explanation as to why the United States was exempted from the enhanced testing regime or why foreign nationals from richer countries where Omicron has been detected are not also prohibited.

On Tuesday, the federal government said it would consult with provinces and territories on whether the on-arrival test and isolation requirement should be expanded to include travelers from the United States. Mr Duclos said it was agreed that stricter rules were not needed for people coming from the United States. at present, as the spread appears to be “under control and their public health system is functioning efficiently”.

He added that governments agreed that the focus should be on protecting Canadians “from concerns seen on other continents.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford praised the new rules announced by Ottawa, and Health Minister Christine Elliott, who attended the meeting with Duclos, said “indications are that ‘ there is no immediate danger to people coming from the United States ”.

She warned, however, that the situation was fluid and that “there could be more news”.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said changes to any rules governing the Canada-U.S. Border should be coordinated. The two countries should have “similar standards for crossing the border, regardless of direction or mode of transport,” Senior Vice President Mark Agnew said.

Beth Potter, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, said the association is monitoring the evolution of the rules.

“We are looking to get our industry back on track, but also to understand the reality and the unpredictability of this virus,” she said. “This is another example where we will have to pivot while learning to live and function in a world where COVID exists. “

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