That's how long air travellers arriving in Canada from countries other than the United States might have to self-isolate for while awaiting for COVID-19 test results under Ottawa’s new on-arrival testing protocol, according to Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
Federal officials, earlier this week, said Canada will require people arriving by air from all countries except the U.S. to take a COVID-19 test at the airport as part of new measures aimed at halting the spread of the newly-discovered Omicron variant.
“They will then need to isolate themselves until they get the results of their test," Minister Duclos told reporters on Tuesday.
The exact details of this policy, including its start date, have been vague. However, yesterday (Dec. 1), Minister Duclos told media that arriving travellers will either be tested at the airport or given a test kit to take at home in isolation.
Most test results are currently processing in a day, he said, but the “service standard” to receive a result is three days, which could be the case as passenger traffic picks up this winter season.
“Depending on local circumstances, [test results] could take longer than what has been seen in the recent weeks and months,” he said, as reported by the Globe and Mail.
The on-arrival test and isolation requirement will apply to all travellers who have been in a country other than the U.S. in the past 14 days – even if they arrive in Canada via the U.S., officials said.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Wednesday that on-arrival testing has already started at some airports, but didn’t specify where.
“We’re ramping up the capacity. In the coming days, we’ll reach full capacity, but testing has started,” he told reporters.
Toronto and Vancouver airports confirmed with the Globe yesterday that on-arrival testing wasn’t in place just yet – although both airports, to date, have participated in random COVID-19 testing for arrivals.
Canada’s busiest airports – Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal – haven't yet received specific details about the new rule, reports say.
At the same time, passengers traffic at airports is expected to rise as the holiday seasons begins.
Recent data from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) shows that more than 200,000 travellers flew into Canada each week since October. That number has risen in the past few weeks, with 262,581 arriving between Nov. 15 and 21.
Mike McNaney, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation LP and WestJet, said Tuesday that it is expected the new testing measures “will be adjusted as further study is carried out on the variant, and that the impact on the relaunch of the travel and tourism sector will be manageable.”
“However, the economic uncertainty facing aviation cannot be overstated. “
“As the variant is reviewed by public health authorities, we expect the government will move forward through science and data-based decision making, tied to clear metrics.”