Premier Doug Ford announced that mandatory COVID-19 testing will start at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Monday.
On Friday, Ford said the federal government’s plan announced this morning would have seen mandatory testing implemented in a few weeks, which Ford said is “a few weeks too late.”
According to the province, the Chief Medical Officer of Health is issuing a Section 22 order under Section 77.1 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, mandating on-arrival testing for international travellers at Toronto Pearson International Airport effective at 12:01 am on February 1, 2021 and exploring additional testing measures at Pearson International Airport and land border crossings in the coming weeks.
The province said the six-point plan includes mandatory testing; enhanced screening and sequencing of the new COVID-19 variants; maintaining public health measures; strengthening case and contact management; enhancing protections for vulnerable populations; and leveraging data.
If someone refuses a test, they can be fined $750.
“We welcome the new measures announced by the federal government today, but we need a stop gap to prevent new cases, including variant cases, from arriving in Ontario until those measures are fully in place,” said Ford.
“That’s why our government is taking immediate and decisive action, which includes mandatory testing of incoming international travellers and providing additional layers of protection for the people of Ontario, especially our seniors. Through our six-point plan, we intend to stop this virus in its tracks.”
Ontario’s first COVID-19 UK variant case was confirmed last month and was due to international travel.
According to the province, since that time, 51 cases of the variant have been confirmed in the province. Evidence shows that the UK variant could be up to 56% more transmissible.
Recent evidence shows Ontario’s Stay at Home orders are causing cases to trend downwards. However, recent modelling suggests that the UK variant and other new variants remain “a significant threat” to controlling the pandemic and could become the dominant strain of the virus in the province by March, posing an “increased threat to public health and hospital capacity.”
Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that mandatory COVID-19 testing would be implemented at airports, including Toronto Pearson International Airport.
At the time, he said it would start in February and that there would be a second mandatory COVID-19 test for arriving international passengers.
As they await the result, they will be required to wait in quarantine for three days at a supervised hotel. The stay will cost $2,000 per person – which includes the cost of private tests and the hotel stay.
If they receive a negative test result, they can go home to quarantine with enhanced supervision. But if the test is positive, they will be taken to a government facility.
Mayor John Tory said he supports the actions taken today by the federal government and added that Toronto Public Health “has been clear that one of the ways to mitigate the variants is to stop the virus at the border and to protect the vulnerable.”
“I believe that imposing these new travel restrictions will help. They will make a difference. That’s why I have advocated for these changes and enhanced federal quarantine enforcement, why the GTHA Mayors and Chairs supported stricter travel measures earlier this week, and why I have supported Premier Ford’s calls for mandatory testing at our airports,” he said.
On January 6, the Ontario government launched a new voluntary and free border testing pilot program at Toronto Pearson Airport for eligible international travellers returning to Ontario.