International travelers entering Canada through Alberta will soon have the option of getting tested for COVID-19 at the border or airport.
Right now, those coming into Canada are legally required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Today, the Alberta and the federal governments unveiled a joint pilot project, the first of its kind in Canada, that will test an alternative to the 14-day quarantine requirement for international travelers.
The new pilot program will explore the feasibility of using a rigorous testing and monitoring program as a strategy to reduce the mandatory quarantine period.
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, both in Alberta. Travelers who participate will receive a 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.
Those who don’t participate in the program will be legally required to isolate for a full 14 days.
Eligible candidates must be returning Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or foreign nationals currently permitted entry into Canada and who have no symptoms.
The pilot will engage both levels of government as well as industry and research partners and will help inform decisions on new measures for international travel. The government says if the project is a success, it could be expanded to other parts of Canada.