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Warning to travellers: You have until Feb 22 to return or pay up to $2,000 for Canada's COVID-19 hotel quarantine

Elisabetta Bianchini
·4-min read

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the mandatory hotel quarantine for travellers coming to Canada by air will come into effect on Feb. 22.

"These border measures will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and new variants," Trudeau said at a press conference on Friday.

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu confirmed that people who have received a COVID-19 vaccine are not exempt from these requirements at this time.

"The research is still developing and emerging around the reduction of infectiousness for people that may contract COVID-19, despite being vaccinated and despite having a less-severe case," Hajdu said.

What is the quarantine process for travellers coming into Canada?

Non-essential travellers to Canada by air are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hour before departure. Proof of a negative test result must be with them during travel. They must submit their contact and quarantine information using the ArriveCAN app before boarding a plane.

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, confirmed that 93 per cent of air travellers are non-essential travellers.

Beginning Feb. 22, travellers need to take a COVID-19 test when the they arrive in Canada, at their own cost, before they leave the airport.

Travellers will then go to a quarantine hotel until their test result is returned, up to three days. They need to reserve their stay prior to arriving in Canada. Hajdu indicated hotel booking information will be available online on Feb. 18.

Travellers must stay in a hotel in the city in which they first arrive in Canada. When their test comes back negative, they can then take a connecting flight to their destination. All international passenger flights can only land at Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal airports.

Travellers must pay for their hotel room and associated costs for food, cleaning and security, which was previously estimated to be about $2,000, but Hajdu said the costs may vary from hotel to hotel.

Anyone who is returning to Canada must complete a 14-day quarantine with“significantly increased surveillance and enforcement,” while anyone who tests positive will be moved to a government facility to quarantine.

Hajdu confirmed travellers are required to take another COVID-19 test at day 10 of their quarantine period at home, which will be arranged with their local public health authority.

What are the rules for travellers who arrive at land border crossings?

Beginning on Feb. 15, anyone travelling to Canada through a land border crossing will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of seeking entry.

Hajdu said essential workers, such as truckers, emergency service providers and cross-border communities, will be exempt from this requirement and the government will continue to assess exemptions "on a case-by-case basis." Blair confirmed that about five per cent of people that arrive at land borders are deemed non-essential.

"There are already a number of exceptions for essential travellers and we’re continuing to look at ways to make sure that we’re keeping them safe and Canadians safe, even as essential trade and medical services criss-cross the border," the prime minister said.

"At the same time, we’re aware that we need to be thoughtful and compassionate about people who are in extremely difficult situations and absolutely need to travel. We’re not trying to punish people, we’re trying to keep people safe and keep Canadians safe from the virus and discouraging all non-essential travel, and ensure that if people do have to travel they’re doing the things that we can be certain are going to prevent the virus from spreading further in Canada."

Trudeau confirmed earlier this week that Canadians without proof of a negative test cannot be turned away at land borders, but they could face a fine of up to $3,000 or a criminal prosecution and may be referred to a designated quarantine facility.

Blair confirmed that all foreign nationals who do not have a valid molecular test will not be allowed into Canada.

As of Feb. 22, travellers will be required to take COVID-19 molecular test on arrival, and another test toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.

Travellers will be require to use to ArriveCAN app to submit contact information and a "suitable" quarantine plan.