You are currently viewing The Airport Test That Replaces The Quarantine In Pilot Project Is Free After All
Infektionsschutzzentrum im Kulturquartier/Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum, Köln

More good news for an easier resumption of international travel (the best type of travel for those who like to discover new cultures): the COVID-19 testing at the airport that replaces Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine is actually free for travelers instead of ≈ $150 (and there’s another positive development).

We already told you about the pilot project that is only in Alberta for now (but that is not only for Albertans: for others who want to trade their 14-day quarantine for a trip to the Rockies, it can be interesting as well).

Here is the new information now that the pilot has officially started (and there are a few different pilot projects newly announced; we will talk about those in another article: subscribe to our free newsletter so you don’t miss it).


The test is free

We obviously hope that the test that replaces the quarantine will be extended to more provinces as quickly as possible. That would allow those who are ready to travel responsibly and safely to do so.

What is encouraging for all travelers (when this becomes available in more provinces) is that rather than paying ≈ $150 for the test as rumored when the pilot was announced, the airport test is entirely free.

Even at $150, that would have been only about $10 per day of quarantine avoided, which undoubtedly made sense to most people.

But the fact that it’s free is obviously even better, and as budget-travelers, we can only be delighted about this (because saving on travel = more travel).


Critics who want travelers to pay

Some say that since travelers choose to travel, they should pay for their test… but if you want to be coherent, I don’t think that’s a logical argument.

The irresponsible people who do not respect distancing and who then have to go get tested don’t have to pay for their test. And traveling can definitely be a lot less risky than many of the decisions people make here without traveling, that’s 100% certain…

People who make the choice to eat indoors at restaurants (which is as risky as flying in terms of the risk of infection according to a Harvard study, it’s worth repeating), or especially going in crowds or to parties can get tested for free even if it they’ve also chosen to do those activities.

For the sake of public health, we offer free tests to all those who do equally non-essential things (like going to bars when they’re open), so why would it be any different for travel? Why should travelers have to pay if everyone can get tested for free in just about every province?

Anyway, the test at the airport is free.


More good news and more details on the process

The other good news is that instead of 48 to 72 hours as mentioned in the announcement, the official site now mentions receiving results in 24 to 48 hours. That makes the quarantine excessively shorter than 14 days!

We now also have more information about the process than at the launch.

To participate, you must:

  • check-in online prior to arrival at the airport or land border
  • give your contact information at the airport and receive instructions
  • get tested for free directly at the airport
  • quarantine until getting the negative result (24-48 hours)
  • stay in Alberta for 14 days even if you are no longer in quarantine
  • confirm daily that you have no symptoms
  • wear a mask in public in indoor settings
  • wear a mask in public in outdoor settings where distancing isn’t possible
  • avoid gatherings of more than 10 people
  • keep a list of close contacts
  • get tested a 2nd time in a pharmacy on the 6th or 7th day

The official websites are more ambiguous about the cost of the 2nd test at the pharmacy, unlike the one at the airport, but it also appears to be free. We have made a request for information and we will come back to you with the answer once we get it.


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The test at the airport that allows travelers to avoid the 14-day quarantine is free. And the results are transmitted within 24-48 hours, so that’s good news for those for whom quarantine is the biggest obstacle to traveling.

What do you think of this pilot project? Tell us in the comments below.


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Featured image: man being tested for COVID-19 (photo credit: Raimond Spekking)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 64/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Leon

    I cannot wait to see it launches at Toronto Pearson Airport hopefully anytime soon. The 14-day quarantine is the huge hold-back for most of us who travel responsibly.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      Absolutely, you’re certainly not alone! We hope it will come soon, we will monitor the situation daily and let you know whenever there are any developments:)

  2. Lori

    When can i travel to NB without isolating 14 days there. Wish they would allow testing upon arrival.

    1. Andrew D'Amours

      The Atlantic provinces seem to be the least in a hurry to ease restrictions. We’ll watch closely and let you know when something changes for sure 🙂

  3. Bee

    So encouraging for those of us who have to travel. Way to go Canada.
    Hope it opens at all CDN airports soon….

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