While Canada now requires international arrivals to present proof of a negative 72-hour COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight, it was only a matter of time before some travellers would try and cheat the system.
Word of fake, fast (and illegal) negative COVID tests being sold underground in Mexico first surfaced in January, days after Canada’s new pre-departure testing rule took effect.
A journalist from Montreal actually went as far as purchasing a fake negative test in Cancun (costing $100, obtained in less than 60 minutes) and presented it to border officers at Montreal airport.
The bogus tested cleared, as the story goes, raising suspicion if Canada’s border security had done its due diligence before getting into the COVID testing business.
Well the days of sneaking faulty tests past CBSA officers are over now, apparently, (not that you should have been doing it in the first place), as Transport Canada has announced that it has charged two travellers for showing falsified COVID-19 test results.
In a Feb. 18 release, the government said it issued fines to two individual passengers for $10,000 and $7,000 respectively for presenting a false, or misleading, COVID-19 test and for making a false declaration about their health status.
“In both cases, the individuals knowingly boarded a flight to Canada from Mexico on January 23, 2021, after having tested positive for COVID-19 only a few days before their flight,” Transport Canada wrote.
Sounds like someone may have had a little too much fun in Mexico and wasn’t willing to put up with quarantining there. Whatever the case, lying about your COVID test not only puts others at risk, but will also cost you big time.
“Passengers are prohibited from knowingly providing false or misleading COVID-19 test documentation,” Transport Canada states. “Any passenger failing to comply with the Interim Order could be subject to fines of up to $5,000 per violation.”
On the case
During the entry screening process for air travellers, test results are assessed by Canada Border Services Agency and Public Health Agency of Canada officers.
If officers determine that the test receipt is likely false or misleading, the matter is referred to Transport Canada for investigation under the Aeronautics Act.
The travellers who presented the fake tests must have violated some strict terms, given how the fines, which were determined after a “comprehensive investigation,” exceeded the $5,000 mark.
Airlines, too, play a role in weeding out fake tests.
“Air carriers who have reason to believe that a passenger has provided a document that is likely to be false or misleading must report the incident to Transport Canada,” the government said.
Transport Canada, which is still advising against non-essential travel, said it will continue to investigate incidents reported to the department and “will not hesitate to take enforcement action where it is warranted.”
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