Starting January 7, all air travellers bound for Canada will be required to present a pre-departure negative COVID-19 test in order to fly.
The new rules, which were announced on New Year’s Eve, are meant to help limit the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country as cases, deaths, and hospitalizations surge.
The required COVID-19 test results for flyers will not replace the mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which travellers will still have to complete before being allowed to roam freely around the country.
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The Government of Canada website says anyone “not respecting the mandatory requirements is a serious offence with consequences and penalties.” Violating any instructions before entering Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
All flyers above the age of five will be required to take a coronavirus molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before their flight’s scheduled departure. Test results must come back negative with written or electronic proof, and documentation must be presented to airlines before boarding.
“Our government remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians,” says Marc Garneau, the Minister of Transport. “These new measures will provide another layer of protection for Canadians as we continue to assess public health risks and work to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.”
The Government of Canada website says the test must be provided by an accredited lab or an “external organization” like a local government.
If a negative PCR test is not provided, travellers will be denied entry to flights within Canada, unless otherwise exempt.
Flyers arriving from countries where PCR testing is not available will be required to report to a designated quarantined zone run by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The government says all travellers into Canada will be responsible for paying for the PCR tests themselves. Federal officials are recommending all travellers get travel insurance as soon as possible and make sure their plans cover all medical expenses.
“Canadians who are currently travelling and returning to Canada soon should start immediately arranging for a COVID-19 test, to avoid a delay in their return to Canada,” says the government’s website.
“Canadians who are planning to travel abroad should consider how they will meet these requirements before departure.”