Canada to implement new testing and quarantine measures to reduce COVID-19 infection related to non-essential international air travel

January 29, 2021

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

Canadians are strongly advised to cancel or postpone any non-essential travel plans outside of Canada. Now is not the time to travel. Additionally, air travellers who decide to travel for non-essential reasons will face new expenses when they return to Canada. This is in addition to providing proof of a negative pre-departure test.

In the coming weeks, they will be required to:

  • take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival at their own cost;
  • reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost, while they await their test results.

Travellers will stay in and pay for their hotel, as well as all associated costs for food, cleaning and security, while they await the results of the COVID-19 molecular test they received on arrival.

Travellers are still required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine. To ensure travellers’ awareness and compliance with 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 of these companies were trained by PHAC to be authorized as Screening Officers under the Quarantine Act. These new Screening Officers will visit travellers’ quarantine locations to establish contact, confirm identify and confirm that travellers are at the place of quarantine they identified upon entry into Canada, to ensure that travellers are complying with the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements. They will conduct these visits in 35 cities across the country, starting in Montreal and Toronto on January 29, 2021. A national phased roll-out will follow in the weeks ahead.

The Screening Officer may provide compliance education or issue verbal warnings, as required. Any cases that warrant a stronger enforcement action will be referred to PHAC, and PHAC will refer the case to law enforcement for follow-up.

Traveller compliance is assessed based on information obtained by officers at the border and during verification calls. Failure to provide accurate information is an offence under the Quarantine Act. In addition, violating any quarantine or isolation instructions provided to travellers by a screening officer or quarantine officer when entering Canada is also an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to series penalties, including 6 months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

The Government of Canada currently contacts more than 6,500 travellers each day through live-agent or interactive automated phone calls, which verify their compliance with the mandatory isolation order. Should there be concerns raised during these compliance checks or if they are unable to reach the traveller in question, PHAC may request follow-ups by law enforcement.

These enhanced measures are an additional level of protection as part of the Government of Canada’s multi-layered strategy to reduce the risk of importation and transmission of COVID-19 and the new variants of concern into our country.

More details on these new measures will be available on in the coming days.