FILE – A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., Monday, May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

FILE – A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., Monday, May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canada to require arriving airline passengers to provide proof of negative COVID test

Mandatory 14-day quarantine remains in effect

Arriving airline passengers will soon be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering Canada, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced Wednesday (Dec. 30).

The test will need to have been completed 72 hours prior to arrival and must be a PCR test, considered the gold standard of COVID testing. However, having proof of a negative tests will not negate the need for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair did not provide an exact date for the new testing requirements to come into effect, but said they would be brought in “quickly.” More information is expected on Thursday.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said that enforcement of the quarantine, introduced in March, would also be stepped up. Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said that travellers entering from the U.K. and South Africa, where more contagious variants of COVID have been found, will be subject to a secondary screening.

READ MORE: B.C. has its first confirmed case of COVID-19 variant from the U.K.

“Now is not the time to travel internationally,” Hadju said, noting that travel advisory remains in effect.

Blair said people returning to Canada have both a “legal and moral obligation” to follow quarantine measures and do their utmost to protect others from infection.

Other countries have already brought in a negative test requirement for entry, including Russia, Japan and the Maldives.

Canada is currently in its second wave of the pandemic. The country has had more than 565,506 total confirmed cases and 15,378 deaths. There are at least 72,271 active cases as of Wednesday morning.

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, the number of incoming air passengers for the week of Dec. 14 to 20 was down 90 per cent compared to the same time last year. According to the health officials, law enforcement officials have had to intervene 41,103 times, with compliance being the result 98.8 per cent of the time. There have been 185 verbal warnings, 20 written warnings, 130 tickets and eight charges as a result of non-compliance.

The maximum fine for breaking COVID-19 quarantine rules include a fine of up to $750,000 and imprisonment for up to six months. Anyone whose actions cause a “risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while wilfully or recklessly contravening [the Quarantine Act] could be fined up to $1 million and imprisoned for up to three years, or both.

The move Wednesday comes as Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being rolled out across the country. In B.C., 12,000 people have received their first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, vice president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said 1.2 million doses of the two approved vaccines are scheduled to be in provincial hands by the end of January.

READ MORE: B.C. COVID-19 vaccinations reach nearly 12,000 people

READ MORE: More than 15,000 people have died in Canada due to COVID-19


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

The Sybil Andrews Cottage property in Willow Point, along with the Haig-Brown House property, have both been assigned Community Heritage Designation. Mirror File Photo
Sybil Andrews cottage and Haig-Brown House get full heritage status

Designation offers both protection as well as opening up future funding opportunities

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
John Dillon Brown set off to conclude an out-of-court settlement the day he disappeared

Trial of Richard Alexander continues in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time up-keeping the yard? You may be unintentionally contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

Most Read