Breaking: Canada to Replace 14-Day Quarantine with Rapid Testing

According to the Calgary Herald, the Canadian government is planning on replacing mandatory 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving internationally with rapid testing at airports:

The federal government will replace mandatory 14-day quarantines with rapid COVID-19 tests for international air passengers, the Sun has learned.

The move will mandate that arriving passengers be required to submit to a rapid COVID-19 test to ensure they are free from the potentially deadly respiratory disease upon arrival, and replace the problematic and rarely enforced mandatory two-week quarantine for all incoming international travellers.

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta

When and where will this be rolled out?

There is currently no timeline announced on when this will happen. As for the locations, the pilot program will begin in either Calgary International Airport (YYC) or Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) before rolling out to the rest of the country. Currently, international flights are only received at:

  • Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
  • Calgary International Airport (YYC)
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

How much will it cost?

Also unknown at this time is the price. However, I believe many anxious travelers will return to the skies once this protocol is implemented, as many will perceive it as a small price to pay in order to be able to travel again.

The questions I have are:

  • Will it be at a reasonable cost? (You can bet it won’t be free)
  • If not, is there a slower, lower-cost alternative?
  • What insurance, if any, are eligible to cover some (if not all) of the cost of this rapid test?

To give a perspective on pricing, United Airlines is offering Hawaii-bound passengers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) a rapid-testing option at $250 USD. While the price is outrageous, the results are available in 15 minutes, and a negative result will allow one to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Hawaii. In London-Heathrow (LHR), passengers departing for Italy and Hong Kong are able to get a rapid test for £80, with results available in 1 hour.

My two cents

Should we be traveling right now? We might as well be, because things are no better at home comparing to almost anywhere else in the world. With Canada currently in the midst of a second wave with 200,000 total confirm COVID-19 cases and British Columbia just set a record at 203 new cases per day yesterday, it is clear that both the government and people have failed.

The Canadian federal and provincial governments are unwilling to implement harsher lockdown measurements seen in European and Asian countries, and the people (at least in Vancouver) are mostly pretending the coronavirus is no longer a threat and many are not taking precautionary measures such as wearing masks (unless they are forced to, such as when riding public transit, and even then, some will refuse to wear masks – without repercussions) or avoiding social gatherings as they go about their daily lives as they were pre-pandemic.

Since many people are not staying safe here at home, I hope this new rapid testing protocol is trialed and implemented swiftly, so those who want to travel, whether for business or leisure, can take to the skies again, provided they can justify whatever cost this new rapid testing will be.