Canada requires mandatory PCR testing for people upon arrival starting tomorrow.
This is in addition to the mandatory PCR test already required to get on the flight prior to returning to Canada. Canada already bans non-essential entry to people who are not citizens or permanent residents, and any arrival must have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of flying. All international flights must now land only in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, or Vancouver, as these airports have been equipped to provide the test upon arrival.
Trudeau said, “travelers will then have to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2,000 (US$1,500).”
The government believes this will discourage people from traveling or taking a holiday when they know they must pay for a hotel stay in quarantine upon their return. Measures will remain in place until April 30th, 2021.
“We need to bring in even tougher border measures than the ones we have right now,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Executive Board of Trustees Member of the World Economic Forum stated to the CBC.
The government has also requested that Canadian Airlines suspend travel to "sun destinations". Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat have all agreed to suspend their flights to those popular so-called "sun destinations" in the Caribbean and Mexico until at least April.30th.
It remains unclear whether Canada has the tests available to implement the new requirements, as Trudeau himself used the term "in the coming weeks". As of today the Official Global Travel Advisories Site for the government of Canada has not been updated to show details of the plan.
Trudeau stated, “In addition to the pre-boarding test we already require, as soon as possible, in the coming weeks, we will be introducing mandatory PCR testing at the airport for people returning to Canada. Travelers will then have to wait up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2,000. With negative test results, they will then be able to quarantine at home under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement. With a positive test, they will be immediately required to quarantine at government-designated facilities. We will also, in the coming weeks, be requiring nonessential travelers to show a negative test before entry at the land border with the U.S.
There is some confusion over which countries are considered "sun destinations", considering the number of snowbirds who regularly spend the winter in states such as Florida and Arizona. Also considering it is summer in the entire southern hemisphere, are South America, South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand to be banned for travel? What about Greece, Italy, Dubai, India and other popular travel destinations in the Canadian winter?
Trudeau did not specifically refer to Central America during his announcement, however at least two airlines have indicated its Costa Rica flights are included in the cuts.
Air Canada lists its routes to the San José area (SJO) and Liberia (LIR) as “temporarily suspended from February 1 until April 30.”
WestJet has also confirmed it will suspend its routes to Liberia, Guanacaste, and Air Transat says it has paused normal operations until May.
Ed Sims, WestJet president, stated in a press release. Westjet will “work to bring [its] guests already in destination back to Canada.”
Air Canada will also operate one-way flights to help repatriate Canadians who are abroad.
It is advisable for those scheduled to return to Canada before April 30th contact their airline for an update as soon as possible. Buenas suerte....