New travel restrictions are going into effect to stop the spread of Covid-19 in Canada. New strict quarantine and testing requirements were announced on Friday, January 29, 2021. The announcement requires all incoming travelers to quarantine at government approved hotels. This includes both citizens and non-citizens. The mandatory quarantine is at your own expense upon arrival. Arrival testing and quarantine is in addition to pre-departure testing requirements already in effect.
Trudeau said in addition to the pre-boarding test Canada already requires, the government will be introducing mandatory PCR testing at the airport for people returning to Canada.
“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 $2000,” Trudeau said.
The steep cost for the hotel stay includes the cost for a private PCR test, security, food and the cost of measures the designated hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe.
Upon arriving in Canada, all passengers will under going additional testing. Those with positive tests will be immediately required to quarantine in designated government facilities. This is to ensure they are not carrying variants of particular concern. Such as new the new U.K. and South African variants which vaccines may not be as effective against. Those who test negative upon arrival will be able to quarantine at home. This is only after receiving confirmation and spending time at the supervised location.
Other changes require that international flights only land at four approved airports. Only Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal will allow international flights through April 30, 2021. This includes flights from the United States.
Canada Suspends Flights to Latin America & Caribbean
Today’s announcement brings other bad news for Canadian travelers. Those who are looking to escape to warm destinations will face another hurdle. Starting January 31, 2021 all flights to Latin America and the Caribbean will be suspended by all Canadian airlines. Air Canada, WestJet, Swoop, Sunwing, and Air Transat are cancelling all air service to all Caribbean and Mexico destinations. These changes start Sunday and go through April 30, 2021.
Airlines are not fighting this directive from the Canadian government. “The government asked, and we agreed,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “While we know that air travel is responsible for less than two per cent of cases since the start of the crisis, and even less today, we recognize the Government of Canada’s ask is a precautionary measure. We also note that the overwhelming majority of quarantine exemptions, well over 90 per cent in fact, are connected to land borders and not air travel. We have responded to their request and will suspend service to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.”
Similar announcements and repatriation flights are expected from Air Canada shortly. Airlines are scrambling to find ways to bring travelers home quickly before the new rules go into effect.
More Restrictions Coming
Today’s announcement is just the tip of the iceberg. As new variants spread many countries are changing entry requirements for travelers, including their own residents. Expect similar measures from the United States and other countries. Many countries are closed to travelers and/or have strict quarantine rules. Currently, over 80 countries requiring negative PCR tests and many more other requiring mandatory quarantine. At time or writing, 50 countries remain closed and 90 are partially open.
In addition to suspending flights and requiring more testing and mandatory quarantine, changes are coming at land border crossings as well. The US-Canada border closed on March 18, 2020 and remains closed. With an exception for essential travel. In today’s press briefing, Trudeau said, “will also, in the coming weeks, be requiring nonessential travelers to show a negative test before entry at the land border with the US, and we are working to stand up additional testing requirements for land travel.”
Finally, do not be surprise if similar requirements are announced at the US land borders in the coming weeks. President Biden’s executive order on travel calls for agencies to review current domestic and international travel restrictions.