Screening officers may visit recent arrivals quarantining in Canada

Feb 1 2021, 4:11 pm

Travellers to Canada may be visited in-person by a screening officer during the country’s newly mandated 14-day quarantine.

Officers could visit hotel-bound people entering Canada in quarantine to “verify compliance.”

According to a press release from the Government of Canada, travellers touching down in the country who violate the new rules could face $750,000 in fines and/or six months in prison.

“The Government of Canada continues to take unprecedented action to protect the health and safety of Canadians by introducing measures to prevent further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus into Canada,” says the news release.

In addition to the government’s COVID-19 restrictions already in place, Canada’s airlines have agreed to suspend all flights to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries until April 30, 2021.

All air travellers arriving in Canada (with very limited exceptions) are mandated to reserve a room in a government-approved hotel for three nights at their own expense. People returning from flights are also required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival, also at their own cost.

To ensure travellers’ compliance with the new quarantine requirements, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with security companies to help “complete compliance checks for travellers arriving in Canada.” Employees are being trained by the PHAC as “screening officers” who will visit quarantine locations to ensure guidelines are being followed.

The officers will confirm the traveller’s identity and ensure all travellers are in their required place of quarantine upon entry into Canada.

These new screening officers will conduct visits in 35 cities across the country, starting in Montreal and Toronto.

“No one should be travelling right now. Each of us has a part in keeping our communities safe, and that means avoiding non-essential travel, which can put you, your loved ones, and your community at risk,” says Health Minister Patty Hajdu. “The new measures announced today will be an important tool for protecting our communities, and increasing our compliance and enforcement capacity will help us keep all Canadians safe from COVID-19.”

All travellers entering Canada have the “responsibility to make suitable arrangements for mandatory quarantine, which begins on the day they enter Canada,” says the government. They are also required to submit COVID-19-related information electronically daily.

Failure to provide accurate information is an offence under the Quarantine Act. Violating any quarantine or isolation instructions provided to travellers by a screening officer is also an offence, which could lead to “serious penalties,” including six months in prison and up to $750,000 in fines.

The PHAC currently contacts more than 6,500 travellers daily through phone calls. As of January 26, 2021, 99% of the 48,682 interventions by law enforcement have resulted in “compliance by travellers.”

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