New Quarantine Program for International Travellers

On October 22, 2020, the Federal Government and the Government of Alberta announced a new joint pilot program for entry of international travellers into Canada through Alberta.

The pilot program is set to come into effect on November 2, 2020 at Calgary International Airport and the Sweetgrass Coutts Border Crossing.

Currently, international travellers are required to quarantine for 14 days on entry into Canada.  It is anticipated that the maximum quarantine period under the pilot program will be two days.

The pilot program is open to eligible travellers entering Canada from a foreign country at the Calgary International Airport or the Sweetgrass Coutts Border Crossing. Eligible travellers include returning Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada and foreign nationals permitted entry into Canada. Travellers will not be eligible for the program if they have signs and symptoms of COVID-19, have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the 14 days prior to entry, or if they do not have an acceptable quarantine plan.

There are three main components to the pilot program: a test component, a quarantine component, and a follow-up test component.

On entry, eligible travellers will be invited to participate in the pilot program by submitting to a COVID-19 test. Following the test, the travellers will be required to quarantine in accordance with the regular rules until the time that they receive a negative test result. It is currently anticipated that travellers will receive their test results within two days. The testing and quarantine period may be reduced and potentially eliminated if rapid COVID-19 tests (such as those recently received by the Federal Government) are used.

After receiving a negative test result, travellers are permitted to leave quarantine; however, they are required to adhere to a number of enhanced preventative health measures, including wearing masks in public places and avoiding visiting high-risk groups. Travellers are also required to submit to a second COVID-19 test on day six or seven after arriving. These tests will be administered at community pharmacies participating in the pilot program. Travellers participating in the program are not permitted to leave Alberta within the 14 days after entering Canada. Failure to adhere to the requirements of the pilot program may result in a participant being fined.

Travel during COVID-19 can be difficult to navigate and inconsistent application of the rules is common. Individuals planning to travel to Canada during the pandemic should obtain a full review and opinion to ensure rules are correctly applied to their application for entry. MLT Aikins has significant experience advising clients on immigration law matters and would be pleased to discuss the implications of this program.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.