Federal advisory panel recommends an end to government-authorized hotel quarantine for travellers

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

By: Broderick Visser
Published May 27, 2021

A newly released federal report is recommending that the current requirement for travellers to quarantine in government-authorized facilities be put to an end.

The report was created by a government ‘Expert Advisory Panel’ put together by the Canadian Minister of Health back in November of 2020 and consists of 10 panel members, eight shadow panel members and two co-chair members.

The report is titled ‘Priority strategies to optimize testing and quarantine at Canada’s borders’ and it aims to change the way in which Canadians travel —based on vaccination status — with some having to quarantine and get tested for COVID-19, while others would not.

*The ideas in the report are not yet all required as of the publish date of this article. The document is only laying out recommendations to the government.*

Quarantine

According to the report, the panel is recommending the discontinuing of government-authorized quarantine facilities. However, travellers who are not vaccinated or aren’t yet fully vaccinated will have to provide and adhere to a quarantine plan.

“The current requirement for all air travellers to quarantine in government-authorized accommodations should be discontinued.”

‘Priority strategies to optimize testing and quarantine at Canada’s borders’

“However, travellers subject to quarantine must provide a suitable quarantine plan for approval and then adhere to this plan. If the traveller does not have a suitable quarantine plan, they should be required to adhere to an alternative one (for example, in designated quarantine facilities).”

It also states “as much as possible land and air border measures should be consistent.” This comes after reports of land-travellers were arriving from the U.S. by foot to avoid the mandatory government-authorized quarantine.

Some travellers, the report states, “are choosing to pay a fine of up to $3,000 rather than staying in a government-authorized accommodation or a designated quarantine facility.” These travellers preferred this rather than the cost of a $2,000 three-day hotel quarantine.

“5 distinct groups of travellers”

The report states there are five different types of travellers.

  1. Non-exempt who are not vaccinated.
  2. Partially vaccinated (received the first dose of a 2-dose series, are within the recommended maximum interval period between doses and 14 days have passed since the first dose).
  3. Fully vaccinated (14 days have passed since the final dose).
  4. Non-exempt with proof of previous infection.
  5. Exempt as defined by the Government of Canada, such as essential workers.

For each type of traveller, the report recommends different requirements for travellers. For each type social distancing and masking are implied.

Unvaccinated non-exempt travellers

The report states those who are unvaccinated and not exempt should;

  • Get tested with either a PCR test within 72 hours or an authorized rapid antigen test within 24 hours before departure.
  • Take a PCR test upon arrival at a border testing station or at the quarantine location.
  • Those travelling by land may use a home-sampling kit.
  • Travellers with a negative PCR test result taken on day seven of quarantine would be permitted to leave quarantine.
  • Those who do not take a day seven test would have to complete 14-days of quarantine.

Partially vaccinated non-exempt travellers

The report states those who are partially vaccinated and not exempt should;

  • Get tested with either a PCR test within 72 hours or an authorized rapid antigen test within 24 hours before departure.
  • Take a PCR test upon arrival at a border testing station or at the quarantine location.
  • Those travelling by land may use a home-sampling kit.
  • Upon arrival, those with a negative test result would not have to quarantine.
  • Those with a positive test result would seek public-health guidance.

Fully vaccinated non-exempt travellers

The report states those who are fully vaccinated and not exempt should;

  • Show acceptable proof (defined by the Government of Canada) of authorized vaccination and that sufficient time has passed after an individual’s final dose.
  • No pre-departure tests, quarantine, or day seven test.
  • PCR testing on arrival at the border testing station for “surveillance purposes.”
  • Those travelling by land may use a home-sampling kit.

Proof of previous infection not-exempt travellers

The report states those who are non-exempt and have proof of previous infection (more than 14 days but less than 180 days before the travel day) should;

  • Show acceptable proof, as defined by the Government of Canada, of infection within this time period
  • Take a PCR test upon arrival at a border testing station or at the quarantine location.
  • Those travelling by land may use a home-sampling kit.
  • Upon arrival, those with a negative test result would not have to quarantine.
  • Those with a positive test result would seek public-health guidance.

Exempt travellers

The report states those who are exempt should;

  • Get “voluntary arrival testing using lab-based PCR or rapid tests with sample collection completed away from the border”

The report states that this would be “ideally implemented to allow for robust surveillance, to provide information on further potential recommendations for this group).”

Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said they welcomed the findings of the report while the National Airlines Council of Canada strongly supports the recommendations of the report, CTV News reported.


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