New Quarantine Requirements: What We Know So Far

Mark Stachiew, Open Jaw

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new quarantine requirements Friday for air travellers entering Canada. When does the program actually start? What will it cost? Here’s what we know so far.

What is involved?

In the coming weeks, all air travellers arriving in Canada must reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost, and take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival at their own cost. More details will be coming in the next few days. 

Who must be tested?

All air travellers arriving in Canada, with very limited exceptions. The government said that it would also soon introduce a 72-hour pre-arrival testing requirement (molecular test) for travellers seeking entry across Canada’s land borders, with limited exceptions such as commercial truckers. 

When does the mandatory hotel quarantine regulation take effect?

It’s Complicated

During his announcement, Trudeau was non-committal about when the quarantines would begin, but said it would be as soon as possible in February. The Government of Canada website said it would be in “the coming weeks”.

In a CBC interview Sunday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said air travellers should be prepared for the new requirements to come into effect as soon as Thursday, 04FEB, although he wouldn’t commit to the date.

Not wanting to wait for federal testing, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Friday that Ontario would implement mandatory COVID testing on passengers arriving at Toronto’s Pearson Airport immediately. 

Funneling Through Four Airports

04FEB is the confirmed date for Transport Canada’s move to funnel scheduled international commercial flights into four Canadian airports: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver as of  midnight (11:59 PM EST) 03FEB. 

The new restrictions will include flights arriving from the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, which were exempted from the previous restriction.

Private/Business and charter flights from all countries will also be required to land at the four airports. 

Where will people quarantine?

In a Government of Canada-approved hotel for up to three nights at their own cost while they await their test results. If results are negative, they will go home to complete the rest of the mandatory 14-day quarantine. 

However, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said they must now take a second PCR test 10 days after the first one. Trudeau said that there would be increased enforcement of the quarantine and people can expect visits from security contractors or receive follow-up phone calls.

For people who test positive for COVID, Trudeau indicated they would be transferred to a government isolation facility. 

How much will it cost travellers?

Trudeau said that the cost to travellers would be up to $2,000 which includes not just the price of the hotel, but also the testing, and increased security and sanitation measures required. Families could reduce some of the cost by isolating together in a single room. The cost is for a three-day stay while awaiting test results, but it could be less if the results come back sooner.

Why has the federal government imposed this new requirement?

Government officials say the measures are necessary to protect the health and safety of Canadians to prevent further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus into Canada.

Mark Stachiew

Mark Stachiew Editor

Mark Stachiew is a Montreal-based travel journalist who's been exploring and writing about the world for more than 30 years. When he's not travelling somewhere or grappling with words on a page, he curates his own collection of travel gear.


John - February 1, 2021 @ 16:47
"For people who test positive for COVID, Trudeau indicated they would be transferred to a government isolation facility."
In Ontario we had 2,000 positive tests today. Are those people being transferred to a government isolation facility? I don't get. Someone explain to me please.

Richard Vanderlubbe - February 1, 2021 @ 14:51
Government is constructing a partial mote when the Trojan Horse already arrived and unloaded. The idea that a ban on sun destinations alone is going to help is wacky. There should be rapid testing for ALL flights at your home airport or bus or rail station (if over an hour or so), and rapid testing when you return. If 100% were rapid tested, at travellers expense (not taxpayers), we would catch hundreds or thousands of positive asymptomatic people daily for real quarantines that would be taken seriously. Every trucker crossing the US border, who could have interacted with someone that interacted with another who was exposed to the Brazillian variant should be rapid tested leaving and arriving back to Canada. Our cases spiked because of Christmas - the time for a lockdown was earlier in December - but that would not be politically a lot of fun - but that's leadership. Re-opening schools with 12 year olds testing at 20%+ positive rates is not logical, but when there's political pressure, cowards take the path of least resistance to avoid the most criticism. Political vanity is what is driving decision making with a window of about two-weeks at a time. Travel bans to protect us from the UK variant (when the UK variant was already here before anyone knew there was a UK variant) and leaving flights to/from the UK but not sun - how does that make sense? The UK variant is not unknown - it's a fact, and the UK is dealing with it and kicking our ass in vaccinations. It would have been far cheaper, had the Government defined essential and non-essential travel rather than tolerating it (including their own ministers that they hypocritically retroactively shamed) and shut down the travel industry altogether. This ridiculous changing the rules with foresight of two weeks at a SO costly. Then the brilliant premiers come in with provincial restrictions as if the virus knows the border - especially between Ottawa and Gatineau let's say...when do mayors start setting up blockades on city limits - that would really help protect us

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