It’s an early Christmas present for us travelers, 9 weeks in advance. One we didn’t even think was possible ourselves (and we’re among the most optimistic about everything related to travel restarting, as you might know). A pilot project in just one province has just been announced to remove the dreaded 14-day mandatory quarantine (the federal rule that applies to everyone entering Canada).
Needless to say, this is amazing news for us travelers. I was certainly not expecting it.
Here’s what you need to know.
Testing to replace 14-day quarantine
The 14-day quarantine will be replaced by a rapid test upon arrival at the airport, a 2-day quarantine, and a 2nd test in the pilot project announced by the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta.
At the beginning, this will sadly only be available in Alberta (but not just for Albertans), but it’s very encouraging news (finally). It’s literally the first step towards removing the quarantine since the beginning of the pandemic.
Based on the many messages we get, the quarantine is by far the number one reason that travelers aren’t going abroad, even if traveling safely and responsibly is certainly possible. Especially if choosing the right destinations: more than 50% of the world’s countries have a lower infection rate than here in Canada.
We told you before why the blanket quarantine is illogical and the opposite of a science-based approach (and why many countries don’t have a similar rule). The science is clear: most countries have a lower infection rate than here, so as we said, the quarantine should at least be based on what the data shows for the country you’re arriving from.
Not to mention we’ve experienced first-hand how the quarantine enforcement seems simply terrible when returning from Greece and Turkey this summer (we’ll share a post about that quarantine experience soon).
Anyway, here’s how the science-based pilot project will work:
- it is voluntary (you can choose to do the 14-day quarantine if you prefer)
- you undergo a rapid test at the airport (or even at the land border, since it is always allowed for Canadians to enter Canada)
- you will have to quarantine while awaiting results (48-72 hours instead of 14 days)
- one your negative test is received, you may end your quarantine
- you have to get a 2nd test on the 6th or 7th day at a pharmacy participating in the program
- you must wear a mask in public, avoid high-risk groups, and do symptom monitoring daily
- it’s not just for Albertans, but you are required to remain in Alberta for 14 days (see below)
Pilot project timing
This option will be available starting November 2nd at Calgary Int’l Airport (YYC) and the Coutts land crossing at the US border.
If you remember correctly, the mandatory quarantine rule is due to expire on October 31st. That will certainly be extended by another month.
But if for once the government can act quickly (they did take 6 months to make temperature checks mandatory in airports) and analyze this approach’s results in Alberta in November, maybe on November 30th this option to avoid the quarantine could be offered in other provinces as well…
At least in the 3 other airports allowed to receive international flights, as all 900,000 passengers who arrived in Canada by plane since the beginning of the summer alone could only land in 4 airports: Toronto (YYZ), Montreal (YUL), Vancouver (YVR), and Calgary.
It’s too early to tell, but some cautious optimism is warranted. Finally a bit of hope.
Yes, it’s only in Alberta for now. But still, this is simply extraordinary news for travelers.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called this an important day and said (emphasis is mine):
“Though a lot of work lies ahead, we can see a return to normal travel.”
And it’s possible to take advantage of this without being Albertan!
To avoid the quarantine, you could always enter Canada via Alberta, but you’d have to stay in the province for 14 days even if you have to quarantine for only 2 days. For example, you could quarantine there for 2 days (there are Marriott Category 1 hotels near Edmonton), and then visit the great outdoors in Banff for 12 days.
That won’t cut the 14-day quarantine time, but you’ll spend time very well-distanced in the beautiful Rockies instead of locked inside at home (the great deal on the luxury Fairmont hotels across Canada includes beautiful properties in Banff and Lake Louise).
We haven’t been able to confirm the cost of the test yet, which could apparently be around $150. That is obviously not as great as the countries that offer free airport testing (or affordable prices like ≈ C$30 in Istanbul) but it’s certainly cheaper than taking two extra weeks off from work to quarantine. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more information.
This was literally just announced so we’ll have a more detailed post, check back soon.
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The mandatory 14-day quarantine will be replaced by rapid testing and a 2-day quarantine in a pilot project in Alberta starting November 2nd.
What do you think of mandatory masks on flights? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: Antalya, Turkey (photo credit: Mert Kahveci)
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