Canada imposes mandatory hotel quarantine on arriving travellers

OTTAWA: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced further travel restrictions including mandatory quarantines in hotels and more COVID-19 testing.

All travellers to Canada will have to quarantine in hotels at their own expense and airlines are suspending flights to southern destinations, further tightening restrictions to slow spread of the virus.

New arrivals will have to pay to quarantine in hotels for up to three days under strict supervision, Trudeau told a news conference. “Now is just not the time to be flying,” he said.

Canada is also stepping up COVID-19 testing while airlines have agreed to cancel flights to destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean until the end of April.

The extra measures come as public health officials are increasingly concerned about the spread of more transmissible COVID-19 variants, as well as an increase in Canadians taking foreign vacations this winter.

For weeks, Trudeau has been urging Canadians to cancel any upcoming travel plans, warning that a crackdown was coming. “By putting in place these tough measures now, we can look forward to a better time when we can all plan those vacations,” he said.

Starting next week, all incoming flights to Canada will be directed to land at one of only four airports — in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. In addition to pre-boarding testing already required, travellers will be given mandatory PCR testing upon arrival in the coming weeks.

They will have to wait for those results at designated hotels for up to three days at their own expense, which Trudeau estimated will cost Can$2,000. If their test comes back negative, they’ll be permitted to complete their full 14-day quarantine at home “under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement,” Trudeau said. Those with positive tests will be moved to a government quarantine facility.

Non-essential travellers showing up at Canada’s land border with the United States will also be required to show a negative test before entry. Canada last March closed its borders to most non-essential travelers, and required incoming travelers to quarantine for 14 days.

Several provincial leaders have called on the federal government for stricter measures and enforcement after a recent spike in the number of Canadians taking winter vacations abroad. The country recorded more than 769,000 coronavirus cases and 19,000 deaths.

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