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

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ district administration centre. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district gets started on new budget amid unknowns

Ministry’s per-student funding increase doesn’t fully cover pay raises for teachers and support staff

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo school district reports COVID-19 case at Fairview Elementary

April 9 exposure the fourth case reported in SD68 since spring break

The old career resource centre, formerly Quennell School, was demolished last week. (Photo courtesy Erik Warners)
Old career centre and school demolished in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter

School district says building was decaying and was unsuitable for use

Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s two new pumper trucks, slated to be delivered in the fall, will have battery-powered idle-reduction technology. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo’s newest fire trucks will come with idle-reduction technology

Pumper trucks arriving from U.S.-based manufacturer will use battery power to save fuel

A raccoon prowls near a porch in north Nanaimo last fall. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Attack on dog shows raccoons can be nasty creatures

We had to take our black lab to the emergency vet for treatment, says letter writer

The old career resource centre, formerly Quennell School, was demolished last week. (Photo courtesy Erik Warners)
Old career centre and school demolished in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter

School district says building was decaying and was unsuitable for use

AstraZeneca vaccine is becoming available at B.C. pharmacies outside the Lower Mainland, as of Friday, April 9. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
Immunization program expands to five Nanaimo pharmacies

Residents 55-65-year-old can get their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

Firefighters, including those from Cranberry volunteer department, are battling a blaze in the Nanaimo River Road area. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Dwelling destroyed, two taken to hospital after Nanaimo River Road blaze

Firefighers arrived to find dwelling and garage fully engulfed in flame at property south of Nanaimo

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

Most Read