New COVID-19 test could shorten quarantine time for international travellers

A joint pilot program from the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta – the first of its kind in the country – will safely test an alternative to the current 14-day quarantine requirement for international travellers while continuing to protect Canadians from COVID-19.

“My priorities are the safety and security of the travelling public and Canada’s transportation system,” said Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, Government of Canada. “This pilot project is an example of how we continue to work with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, provincial and territorial governments and transportation industry stakeholders to reduce the risk of transmission while seeking new safety measures for international travel.”

Travellers returning to Canada continue to be legally required to quarantine for 14 days after entering the country. The new pilot announced October 22 will explore the feasibility of using a rigorous testing and monitoring program as a strategy to reduce the mandatory quarantine period, while keeping Canadians safe.

Beginning on November 2, COVID-19 testing will be offered initially at two ports of entry into Canada, the Coutts land border crossing and the Calgary International Airport in Alberta. Travellers who participate will receive a COVID-19 test upon entry into Canada before proceeding into the required quarantine.

Once the test comes back negative, they will then be allowed to leave their place of quarantine so long as they commit to getting a second test on day six or seven after arrival, at a community pharmacy participating in the pilot program.

Participants will be closely monitored through daily symptoms checks. They will also be required to follow enhanced preventive health measures, such as wearing masks in public places and avoiding visiting high-risk groups.

Eligible candidates must be returning Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals currently permitted entry into Canada and who have no symptoms. All returning international travellers who do not voluntarily participate in the pilot must continue to adhere to the 14-day quarantine.

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