A traveller walks into a Covid-19 testing clinic at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Bloomberg)
A traveller walks into a Covid-19 testing clinic at Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Bloomberg)

Covid: Flyers to Canada to be tested, will have to pay for quarantine

Besides a negative Covid test prior to boarding the flight, as mandated in January, incoming passengers will have to also get tested again after landing at a Canadian airport.
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Vinod JanardhananAnirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Vinod Janardhanan
PUBLISHED ON FEB 01, 2021 12:21 PM IST

With the death toll from the Covid-19 pandemic crossing 20,000, Canada is putting harder restrictions on air travellers entering the country.

Besides a negative Covid test prior to boarding the flight, as mandated in January, incoming passengers will have to also get tested again after landing at a Canadian airport. They will have to be lodged in an institutional facility till the time the results are available. Authorities estimate that could be about three days, and passengers will have to pay for that period of lodging and boarding, and that bill could cross CA$ 2000 (over 100,000 rupees).

That financial disincentive is among the measures the Canadian government has instituted to keep Canadians from flying abroad and then return to the country. “With the challenges we currently face with Covid-19, both here at home and abroad, we all agree that now is just not the time to be flying,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently told the media.

The post-arrival testing is likely to commence as early as this Thursday. “As soon as possible in the coming weeks, all air travellers arriving in Canada, with very limited exceptions, must reserve a room in a government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost, and take a Covid-19 molecular test on arrival at their own cost,” transport Canada said in a statement.

As of Sunday night, it has also suspended all flights to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries until April 30. International flights will now only be allowed to land at four airports in the country – Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary.

Public health authorities are also hiring security companies to provide screening officers who will visit returning travellers to ensure they comply with the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period following arrival.

Canada was, at one point, considering a ban on international flights, but that move is not being made at this time.

Such stringent action comes as the country remains in the grip of a second wave this winter, even as the government struggles with procuring sufficient number of vaccinations. Total deaths from the coronavirus crisis has reached 20,032 with 778,976 confirmed cases recorded.

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