The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has put successive border measures in place, in response to COVID-19, under the Quarantine Act.
What is the Government doing to encourage the restart of the Canadian economy while continuing to prevent imported cases of COVID-19?
IF PRESSED ON NEW UPDATES TO THE BORDER MEASURES
IF PRESSED ON PRE-DEPARTURE AND PRE-ARRIVAL TESTING
IF PRESSED ON FEDERAL QUARANTINE SITES
IF PRESSED ON WORK WITH PROVINCES TO DATE
IF PRESSED ON COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT
IF PRESSED ON BORDER PRESENCE
SI L’ON INSISTE SUR LA PRÉSENCE À LA FRONTIÈRE
IF PRESSED ON CANADA’S APPROACH TO TRAVEL ADVISORIES AND EASING OF BORDER MEASURES
The continued identification of new variants around the globe, with demonstrated increases in transmissibility, has introduced new risks to manage.
Between February 3, 2020 and February 14, 2021, the Governor in Council has made 45 Emergency Orders under the Quarantine Act to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in Canada – to reduce risks from other countries, to repatriate Canadians, and to strengthen measures at the border to reduce the impact of COVID-19 in Canada.
On Arrival Testing, Mandatory Hotel Stays and Enhanced Quarantine
On January 29, 2021, the Government of Canada announced enhanced testing and quarantine measures, in addition to the pre-departure testing requirement already in place. All air travellers to Canada, with limited exceptions, will face additional costs, including a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival, as well as a hotel stay when they return to Canada.
As of February 22, 2021, all travellers, with limited exceptions, whether arriving by air or land, will be required to
As of February 22, 2021, travellers arriving by air will be required to reserve and stay in a government-authorized accommodation (hotel) for up to three nights, at their own cost, while they await the results of the COVID-19 molecular test they took on arrival, before completing the rest of their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
To ensure travellers’ awareness and compliance with quarantine requirements, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with security companies to help complete compliance checks for travellers arriving in Canada. Employees of these companies were trained by PHAC and authorized as Screening Officers under the Quarantine Act. These Screening Officers will visit travellers’ quarantine locations to establish contact, confirm identity and confirm that travellers are at the place of quarantine they identified upon entry into Canada. These new officers will conduct visits in 35 cities across the country, starting in Montréal and Toronto.
The Government of Canada’s current travel advice to all Canadians is to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada (Level 3) and to avoid all cruise ship travel (Level 3). Although this travel advice is not binding on Canadians choosing to travel abroad, some travel insurance providers no longer cover travel booked on or after March 13, 2020, when these advisories came into effect. Canada’s Travel Health Notice was updated on January 6, 2021 to reflect pre-departure testing requirements, and on January 16 to reflect the countries with variants of concern
Currently, the emergency order on the prohibition of entry from the United States (U.S.) is in place until at least March 21, 2021. The other two emergency orders - prohibition of entry from countries other than the U.S., and the quarantine, isolation, and other obligations order, are in place until at least April 21, 2021.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has been working with federal and provincial partners to facilitate commercial traffic to maintain the flow of essential goods and services, while continuing to protect the health of Canadians.
A travel ban is currently in place for most people entering Canada, including:
Cross-border supply chains are vital to ensure the continued flow of goods, including food and medical supplies for all Canadians. As such, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is working with other federal partners to share information with commercial stakeholders to provide assurances that commercial traffic is not impeded.
Canada has 117 land border points of entry, 12 large international airports, 4 commercial marine ports, and 3 rail stations. PHAC has increased the physical presence of its designated officers, including quarantine officers, at 33 points of entry across Canada, including major land borders.
Testing will be available on site at 5 of Canada’s busiest land ports of entry as of February 22, 2021.This service will be available as of March 4, 2021 at another 11 land ports of entry. At land ports of entry with no on-site testing capacity, Border Services Officers will provided two take-home test swabs kits to every traveller.
The Government provided an exemption to mandatory quarantine to enable specific border COVID-testing pilots with provincial and territorial governments. The Government of Canada will continue to work with its provincial and territorial partners to discuss how the new testing and quarantine requirements will affect pilot programs. The Government of Canada will continue to monitor international alternatives to quarantine closely and will review the evolving science.
PHAC undertakes compliance and enforcement to ensure that travellers are abiding by the requirement to isolate/quarantine for 14 days. In those instances, where compliance cannot be confirmed, PHAC refers these travellers to the RCMP for compliance follow-up. Maximum penalties for failing to comply with an order under the Quarantine Act (e.g. the Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations Order) include a fine of up to $750,000 or imprisonment for six months, or both.
Additionally, the Contraventions Act gives law enforcement partners (including RCMP, provincial and local police) the enforcement power to issue tickets to people who do not comply with the Quarantine Act, with fines of up to $3,000 for different Quarantine Act offences (this does not apply in AB, SK and the territories, as these jurisdictions have not signed on to the contraventions regime).
A person who causes a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person, while willfully or recklessly contravening the Quarantine Act or the regulations could be liable for a fine of up to $1 million or imprisonment of up to three years, or both.