COVID-19InternationalNews

Federal Government Implements Mandatory Pre-Departure Negative COVID-19 Test

By January 7, 2021 No Comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis that is having a significant impact on the air industry and all travellers. The Government of Canada has multiple measures in place to protect the health and safety of Canadians, and to help prevent air travel from being a source of further introduction and spread of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus into Canada.

Since March 13, 2020, the Government of Canada has strongly advised against non-essential travel, and that travel restrictions and measures can be amended at any time as necessary for public health reasons.

Departure to Canada:

The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, is requiring that, effective January 7, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EST, regardless of citizenship, all air passengers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada. This implementation date provides all airlines, both foreign and domestic, adequate time to comply with the new requirements.

Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using either a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or a Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.

A negative laboratory test (paper or electronic proof of result) must be presented by the traveller to the airline or private operator prior to coming to Canada. The negative laboratory test result must include the following data elements:

  • Traveller name and date of birth
  • Name and civic address of the laboratory/clinic/facility that administered the test
  • The date on which the test was conducted
  • The method of test conducted (PCR or LAMP)
  • The test result

At this time, travelers are encouraged to make best efforts to have their test performed at a reputable laboratory or testing facility (e.g. one recognized by the local government or accredited by a third party, such as a professional organization or international standards organization). Information is available on http://Travel.gc.ca about local COVID-19 testing facilities for certain destinations.

The Government of Canada will notify travellers should it become mandatory to obtain COVID-19 tests from specific accredited laboratories or facilities.

All travellers coming to Canada must present this information at the time of boarding. Failure to do so will mean an automatic denial of boarding by the airline operating the flight to Canada. 

Air carriers failing to comply with the requirements of the Interim Order or other regulatory requirements under the Aeronautics Act could be subject to a fine of up to $25,000.

Arrival in Canada:

Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The Government of Canada will be further increasing surveillance efforts to ensure travellers entering Canada complete the applicable mandatory 14-day quarantine period under the Quarantine Act.

As has been the case for months, all travellers will have their quarantine plans reviewed by a government official and, if not suitable, will be required to quarantine in a federal quarantine facility. Travellers to Canada must use the ArriveCAN App or website and provide accurate contact information and their mandatory 14-day quarantine plan on or before entry.

Violating any instructions provided when you enter Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

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. Canadians who are planning to travel abroad should consider how they will meet these requirements before departure.

Time-Limited Flexibilities:

At the outset, there are time-limited flexibilities for travellers departing from some countries in recognition of the need for testing systems to adjust.

Travellers departing from:

  • Saint Pierre et Miquelon:
    • Exempt from the requirement to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test until January 14, 2021
    • It is strongly encouraged that travellers from Saint Pierre et Miquelon get a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Canada.
  • Haiti:
    • Exempt from the requirement to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test until January 21, 2021
    • It is strongly encouraged that travellers from Haiti get a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Canada.
  • Caribbean or South America:
    • Can use test results conducted within 96 hours of departure (instead of 72 hours) until January 14, 2021

Exceptions to showing a negative COVID-19 test:

There are only a limited number of exceptions where an individual is not required to show proof of a negative test. These are:

  • children who are four years of age or younger (i.e., children who are five on the day of their travel must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test);
  • air crew members or a person who seeks to enter Canada only to become such a crew member;
  • transiting passengers (not entering Canada through a border port);
  • emergency, law enforcement or border personnel;
  • specific individuals or groups identified by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer or the Minister of Health; and
  • Individuals or a group of individuals that have been granted an extra-ordinary exemption from Transport Canada.

Quotes:

The COVID 19 pandemic is far from over. We need to continue to be vigilant, and we need to continue to take action to reduce the risks of spreading the virus by air travel. This new interim order will help protect Canadians and air travellers. We continue to assess public health risks, as we to work to limit the spread of COVID 19 in Canada.”

Minister of Transport
The Honourable Marc Garneau

“Pre-departure testing offers an additional layer of protection to Canada’s existing multilayered strategy, in addition to existing measures such as mandatory 14-day quarantine. However, we still urge Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada. It is important that Canadians understand that they risk being exposed to the virus during travel outside the country and, in turn, may expose other Canadians, including those most at risk of serious illness.”

Minister of Health
The Honourable Patty Hajdu

“These new measures do not replace any of the previous measures we have put in place to protect Canadians. All travellers must still quarantine for 14 days after they arrive unless explicitly exempt. We continue to strongly advise against travel of any kind, and if anyone doesn’t follow the quarantinerequirements, they could face severe penalties. The health and safety of Canadians is our top priority and should be the top priority of every Canadian.”

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
The Honourable Bill Blair

“The decision to implement the pre-boarding negative testing measures was not made lightly. While we recognize its potential to cause inconvenience and frustration to Canadians abroad travelling back to Canada, we are doing what is necessary to help protect the health of all Canadians. The COVID-19 situation continues to be unpredictable and changes rapidly.  We must also adapt rapidly.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne

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