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Hotel quarantine: Be ready Feb. 4, says Transport Minister Omar Alghabra


Hotel quarantine: Be ready Feb. 4, says Transport Minister Omar Alghabra
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Canada’s mandatory COVID-19 testing measure and hotel quarantine for air travellers may be coming into effect as soon as this Thursday (Feb. 4), says Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

In an interview on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live on Sunday (Jan. 31), Alghabra asked people “to be prepared as soon as Feb. 4” as tougher entry rules for international arrivals take effect.

"I can't tell you if that's exactly when it's going to start, but I would ask people to be ready for it as soon as possible,” Minister Alghabra said.

Getting tough on travel 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled tougher travel rules on Friday (Jan. 29), which included a promise to introduce mandatory PCR testing at airports, which adds to already-existing pre-departure testing requirements that took effect Jan. 7.

Travellers will have to wait for up to three days in a government-approved hotel for test results at their own expense, which Trudeau pegged at $2,000.

READ MORE: Flights to sun destinations suspended until Apr. 30; mandatory hotel quarantine confirmed

Those who test negative will be released from their hotel and be allowed to quarantine at home. Those with positive tests will have to stay in quarantine at a government facility. 

Post-arrival PCR testing will take place at Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal airports, where all international flights have been funnelled since last Wednesday night.

The mandatory PCR testing will take place before passengers head to their quarantine hotel, said Alghabra.

In addition to all of this, Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat, on Sunday (Jan 31), suspended operations to Mexico and Caribbean and will do so until April 30.

The Government of Canada was apparently considering a wider ban on travel, but decided not to go this route as it would have impacted the flow of essential goods and services, Alghabra told CBC.

What about the land border? 

The fate of the Canada-U.S. land border is still up for discussion.

On Friday, Trudeau said that all land arrivals, in the coming weeks, will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon entry.

But it is still unclear if Canadians driving over the border will be ushered into a hotel also.

“The Government of Canada will introduce a 72-hour pre-arrival testing requirement (molecular test) for travellers seeking entry in land mode, with limited exceptions such as commercial truckers,” reads a Transport Canada release. “In addition, we continue to collaborate with partners in the United States to strengthen our border measures and keep our countries safe.”


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