Tuesday,  May 24, 2022  7:06 am

Discovery of COVID variant tightens quarantine rules for Alberta pilot project

Discovery of COVID variant tightens quarantine rules for Alberta pilot project
Travellers line up for COVID-19 testing at Calgary International Airport. (Tannis Dyrland).
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.

Alberta has tightened its travel restrictions after a variant of COVID-19 was discovered in the province.

The case is the same strain first reported in the United Kingdom, although Alberta’s variant is not being directly linked to international travel.

Alberta reportedly has 20 known cases of the U.K. variant and five of another strain first reported in South Africa. Ontario, too, has issued similar reports. 

As a result, international passengers returning to Alberta through Calgary International Airport or at the Coutts land border crossing  – and using the quarantine-reducing pilot project – have to remain in isolation for a longer period of time.

READ MORE: 14 days to 15 hours: A travel agent shares her experience using the Alberta pilot project

Border pilot participants must now stay in quarantine until receiving a negative result from their second test on day seven or eight (counting arrival day as day one), according to an advisory posted to the province of Alberta’s website.

A sign at YYC encourages travellers to register for the pilot project online. (Tannis Dyrland)

Previously, the pilot program allowed participants to exit quarantine upon receiving confirmation of a negative test, taken at their point of entry, under the agreement that they receive a second test five to six days later. 

Test results are typically delivered within 12 to 48 hours, significantly reducing quarantine compared to the mandatory 14-day order that all other travellers must follow. 

READ MORE: "We cannot turn our back to the travel industry”: Alberta launches rapid testing to reduce quarantine

Travellers currently in the program must immediately return to quarantine if they haven’t taken their second test and received the negative result yet, Alberta's advisory states.

“Participants cannot return to childcare, out of school care, schools, post-secondary institutions, and workplaces outside of their home for 14 days,” reads the notice.

“The Alberta Pilot Project,” as it’s commonly referred to as, launched in November 2020, giving international arrivals who test negative for COVID-19 a chance to reduce their quarantine to two days or less.

In December, Alberta said more than 18,000 travellers had used airport testing, reporting a 1.48 per cent positivity rate on the first test.

According to Alberta’s website, the pilot project will run until 52,000 participants have enrolled.

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