TORONTO (AP) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced stricter restrictions for travelers in response to new, probably more contagious variants of the new coronavirus – including making it mandatory for travelers to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense when they arrive in Canada and cancel flights to Mexico and all destinations in the Caribbean until April 30.
Trudeau said that in addition to the pre-boarding test that Canada already requires, the government will introduce mandatory PCR testing at the airport for people returning to Canada.
“Travelers will then have to wait up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $ 2,000,” Trudeau said.
“Those with negative test results will then be able to quarantine at home under significantly increased monitoring and compliance.”
The steep costs of hotel stays include the cost of a private PCR test, security, food and the cost of measures that the selected hotels will need to take to keep their workers safe.
“The cost is a ball parking. This is not like any other facility. This is one where there must be infection prevention measures, security and other costs as well. It is not just a regular stay in a hotel, says Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Head of Public Health.
The Prime Minister said that those with positive tests will be immediately quarantined in designated government facilities to ensure that they do not carry variants of particular interest. .
Trudeau also said that the government and Canada’s major airlines have agreed to discontinue service to solar destinations immediately. He said Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat will cut off air services to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico from Sunday through April 30.
“They will make arrangements with their customers who are currently traveling in these regions to organize their return flights,” Trudeau said.
He said that from next week, all international passenger flights must land at the following four airports: Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.
“We will also, in the coming weeks, require non-essential travelers to show a negative test before entering the land border with the United States, and we are working to set additional test requirements for land travel,” Trudeau said.
Canada already requires those entering the country to isolate themselves for 14 days and to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of arrival.
Tam, Canada’s chief health officer, said security contractors will go door-to-door to check on homeless returnees.
The move to require a hotel stay on return would discourage holidays as people do not want to have to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense on return.
“It is excellent. It’s a shame it’s so late. This is something they could have done many years ago, says Dr. Andrew Morris, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Toronto and Medical Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction.”
More and more governments are considering ways to become more aggressive due to the new variants, delays in vaccines, the challenges of vaccinating the population and the strain on healthcare systems.
Public Security Secretary Bill Blair said officials had called on Canadians to cancel all non-essential travel and try to eliminate them.
“Unfortunately, some make the choice to participate in non-important trips. If they are to make that choice, they should bear the full cost, says Blair.
Trudeau also announced that part of the next delivery of the Moderna vaccine will be delayed, which will come next week. He said Canada will receive 78% of the expected amount, which means 180,000 doses.
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