Explainer: Travellers flying into Canada must test negative for COVID-19 before boarding

Here’s how the new travel measures implemented on Jan. 7 work, and what to expect if you’re flying into Canada

As of Jan.7, anyone flying into Canada must test negative for Covid-19. (AirCanada)

Effective Jan. 7, air travellers coming into Canada, ages five and up, will be required to test negative for COVID-19 within 72-hours before their flights, the federal government announced in a news release.

The new travel measures were announced on Dec. 31, and are being put in place by Minister of Transport Marc Garneau to prevent further spreading of COVID-19 and new variants in Canada.

Passengers must undergo a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction test within the 72-hour window before their flight and present documentation of their negative test result to the airline before boarding.

This type of test entails having their nose or throat swabbed for a fluid sample, and the sample will then be analyzed in a laboratory, according to the COVID-19 diagnosing information page from the government website. The test results are usually delivered in one to three days.

The electronic or paper documentation of test results must include the traveller’s name, date of birth, the name and address of the place they were tested at, the date of the test, the method of testing used, and the test result itself, according to the news release.

People who fail to provide a negative test result will be automatically denied from boarding by the airline, said the news release.

The only exceptions for showing a negative test result are children four years of age and younger, aircrew members, transiting passengers, emergency, law enforcement or border personnel, and individuals or groups who have either been identified or exempted by Canada’s chief public health officer, the minister of health, or by Transport Canada.

Regardless if they test negative, travellers coming into Canada are still required to quarantine for the full 14 days once they land.

Mandatory contact and travel information and quarantine plans must be submitted through ArriveCAN for a government official’s approval before boarding any flights. If a plan is found unsuitable, quarantining must be done in a federal quarantine facility.

The government of Canada will be increasing surveillance efforts to ensure people are sticking to their quarantine plans and completing their two weeks in whole, said the news release.

If travellers are found not complying with their plans, they could face fines of up to $750,000 and possible jail time of up to six months.

Non-essential travel is still discouraged federally, and the current provincial health orders in B.C. repeat that.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Phillipe Champagne said in the news release that citizens should try to avoid leaving Canada in the first place, as the return may be difficult and stressful due to changing travelling restrictions.

“We can all work together to save lives. Stay in Canada and follow public health guidelines to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community,” said Minister of Health Patty Hajdu in the news release.

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