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Canada brings back random Covid testing for tourists – with risk of 10 days hotel quarantine

‘Canada has become a total outlier in managing Covid-19 and travel’ – Peter Cerda, Iata

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Friday 05 August 2022 10:44 BST
Welcome sign? International arrivals to Canada can be selected for random Covid testing
Welcome sign? International arrivals to Canada can be selected for random Covid testing (Getty Images)

As nations around the world ease their Covid travel restrictions, Canada has moved in the opposite direction.

International passengers arriving at the four leading Canadian airports – Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto – may be selected for random testing for the Covid-19 virus after arrival. If the test is positive, they face 10 days in hotel quarantine.

Visitors are required to be fully vaccinated, and must supply proof before entering Canada. But after they pass through border facilities at one of the airports, they many get an email “within 15 minutes of completing your customs declaration” ordering them to be tested.

The Covid test, which is free, must be taken on the day of arrival or the following day. The government says: “You can complete your test in-person or pick up a self-swab kit at select test provider locations, select pharmacies, or via a virtual appointment for a self-swab test.”

While waiting for the result – which could take up to four days – travellers are free to go where they wish.

But if the test is positive, the visitor must isolate for 10 days from the time of the result.

While returning Canadians are expected to self-isolate at home, foreigners are likely to be taken into hotel quarantine. This will be provided free, along with three meals per day.

The move has been heavily criticised by the International Air Transport Association (Iata), representing airlines.

Peter Cerda, the organisation’s regional vice president for the Americas, said “Canada has become a total outlier in managing Covid-19 and travel.

“While governments across the globe are rolling back restrictions, the government of Canada is reinstating them.”

He said the 10-day isolation spell is “twice as long as the average isolation period recommend by any provincial or territorial health authority in Canada.”

”Those in power in Canada believe that throwing more red tape at the pandemic is the way forward.

“Governments need to ensure that travel restrictions are designed to address today’s environment, not the environment of the previous two years.”

Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s health minister, said: “As we have said all along, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence.

“We need to keep border testing measures in place because that is how we track importation of the Covid-19 virus, and of new variants of concern.

“We will keep adapting our border measures to balance the need to protect Canadians while supporting our economic recovery.”

Prospective travellers can avoid the risk of hotel quarantine by flying to a gateway such as Halifax or Quebec City where the policy does not apply.

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