Assignees must receive negative Covid test 72 hours prior to flight to Canada.

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As of January 7, all flyers coming to Canada from the ages of 5 and older will need to prove a negative result from a COVID-19 test, before they are allowed to board their flight. The test must have been taken within 72 hours before their flight’s scheduled departure.

Human Resources Department’s should get the word out right away – booking a test at origin may not be easy

People relocating already have so much work to do before getting ready to travel, so they will need to be advised to free up more time if they are coming to Canada now, so that they can conduct the test.

The test is a standard nose swab that people are familiar with seeing on the news, which is called a polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test.  The test result can be provided in writing or as electronic proof. The lab conducting the test must be accredited by “an external organization.” The vagueness of this directive could cause confusion as to where to go for the test.

Depending on the country of origin, booking a test with short notice may not be easy. With great lead time, this may get easier, but All Points is concerned that a number of early January arrivals will be delayed because of the short notice of this announcement.

Concerns with Enforcement

All Points has already worked with a number of assignees who were turned away from their original flight, for no good reason, because the airlines’ employees simply were not clear on who was allowed to travel and who was not allowed. So, it is natural that there are already concerns with enforcement of this rule, which is left up to the airlines. How is an airline worker supposed to know whether the lab conducting the test was properly accredited by an external organization? Results may also come in many different forms, depending on the lab. The airlines will be forced to judge the adequacy of proof of the negative test.

Isolation Plans still recommended

In the same announcement, the government did note that it “will be further increasing surveillance efforts to ensure travellers entering Canada complete the applicable mandatory 14-day quarantine period under the Quarantine Act”.

All Points is still strongly recommending that assignees and their Human Resources departments work on 14-day self-isolation plans in addition to completing the ArriveCan App.  At this time, while opposition parties are asking if the quarantine can be reduced based on this new rule, there is no sign that the 14-day quarantine is going to change. We are still finding that a well written Isolation Plan, in addition to the completion of the ArriveCan App, is the best way to satisfy CBSA officers quickly and efficiently, that the assignee and family can pass on through to their destination.

The Alberta Pilot Program?

The Alberta government has confirmed that the new rule will not affect a pilot project at the Calgary International Airport and Coutts border crossing, where COVID-19 tests are offered, with two negative results ensuring a shorter mandatory quarantine period. However, we are assuming that this means, someone travelling internationally to Calgary will have to have 3 tests (one at origin 72 hours prior to travel as well as two in Alberta) within a very short period of time.

Now we wait, watch and listen.

As the program rolls out, we may see hiccups as well as greater detail roll out, as airlines implement the government’s policy. We will update clients accordingly.

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