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A new pilot project for Canada has been launched at the Calgary International Airport that will drop the mandatory quarantine in lieu of Rapid COVID-19 testing. 

The federal government of Canada, along with the provincial government in Alberta, have jointly announced that a new pilot program launched in Alberta will see the mandatory 14-day quarantine greatly reduced to around 48 hours for travelers returning home. 

The pilot project will launch November 2nd, 2020 at the Calgary International Airport. 

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The government is rolling out the new testing protocols in phases, with Calgary’s YYC airport and Alberta’s Coutts land border are the first locations. 

Edmonton airport is expected to be the second airport taking part. This will effectively allow Albertan’s (or travelers returning into Alberta from abroad) to travel abroad and not face a mandatory 14 day quarantine when returning home.

For example, a Calgarian traveler could take a vacation to Mexico and upon returning home be released from quarantine within 48 hours if test results are negative. 

canada - U.S. Border

While only Alberta is taking part in this new pilot program, if it goes well, the rest of Canada could see this put into place in the very near future.

“This is an important step in Alberta’s Recovery Plan. This new pilot program will allow those who need to travel for work to have a safe path to a shorter quarantine period. Since the start of this pandemic, Alberta’s government has highlighted the importance to protect lives and livelihoods. Today’s announcement does just that.”

Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta
Calgary airport

Here is how the Canada Rapid Test Pilot Will Work

  • Only Calgary International airport and Coutts land border will be included for the initial pilot program 
  • Returning international travelers will take a Rapid Covid-19 test upon landing at the Calgary International Airport or crossing the land border at Coutts,
  • Travelers will then self-isolate for 24-48 hours until test results are complete.
  • If the test is negative, passengers are asking to still remain in Alberta for 14 days, but they do not have to quarantine, but are asked to not visit high risk areas (like care homes for example)
  • If the test is positive, passengers must quarantine for 14 days
  • All returning travelers, even if they receive negative results, will be monitored for 7 days and report daily symptom checks
  • On the 6th or 7th day all travelers will then take a second rapid COVID-19 test at a participating pharmacy.
westjet plane in calgary

Important Note: The program can be used by ALL returning Canadians, as long as they are using either YYC airport or Coutts land border. They do not have to be a resident of Alberta, but they do have to remain in Alberta for 7 days in order to take the 2nd required test. 

“YYC Calgary International Airport is proud to be the only airport in Canada to have a government-approved testing pilot for arriving international passengers—which we hope will lead to reducing and one day eliminating the current 14-day self-isolation requirements.This innovative science-based testing is the lifeline our airport and airline partners need to instil confidence in air travel.”

Bob Sartor, President and CEO, Calgary Airport Authority
Traveler at Canadian Airport

“This announcement is welcomed by WestJet and I applaud and thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Jason Kenney for taking this important step in providing peace of mind to anxious travellers. WestJet has been advocating for a science-based rapid testing solution to help safely ease the quarantine requirements.With our home and largest hub in Calgary, guests from the province will be the first to experience this extremely important trial as an alternative to a 14-day quarantine.”

Ed Sims, CEO, WestJet
westjet plane

Most countries globally have already implemented a similar procedure, putting the Canadian government under pressure on why they still had such a draconian protocol as the 14-day quarantine still in place.

Some Canadians have been critical of the 14 day quarantine saying that many travelers ignored the self-isolation orders. 

Air Canada and WestJet

Canada has not reopened its borders for international tourism and only select travelers from abroad may enter Canada. 

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories

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