72-hour PCR test mandatory for land border crossings as of Feb. 15: Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Feb. 9, 2021

72-hour PCR test mandatory for land border crossings as of Feb. 15: Trudeau

OTTAWA — Effective Feb. 15, 2021 travellers returning to or arriving in Canada via land border crossings will now be required to show proof of a 72-hour negative PCR test.

The PCR test requirement is already in place for air travellers, as announced Dec. 30, 2020 and which came into effect Jan. 7, 2021.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement about PCR tests for travellers at land border crossings at his COVID-19 briefing this morning.

“Starting Feb. 15, when you return to Canada via the land border, you will need to show a 72-hour PCR test result, just like air travel,” said Trudeau.

Asked if land border travellers would be refused entry to Canada if they do not have PCR test results, Trudeau noted that unlike air travellers, who can be refused boarding, land border travellers cannot be refused entry.

“You can’t prevent someone who’s at the land border from coming into Canada because technically they’re already on Canadian soil,” said Trudeau. “But we can apply severe penalties if they don’t have the test.”

However, he added, “the vast majority of people all do what is needed” to comply with the rules.

While non-essential travellers comprise about 15% of air travellers currently, they represent only about 5% of land border crossings these days.

The federal government’s strict new travel measures, announced Jan. 29, 2021 and coming on top of existing travel measures, include mandatory hotel quarantines for inbound travellers for up to 3 days and a cost of $2,000 while awaiting PCR test results. With a negative PCR test result travellers finish their 14-day quarantine at home. If the PCR test is positive travellers must wait out their quarantine in a government facility.

Asked about the conditions at the government facilities, and concerns about so-called ‘internment camps’ as reported in the consumer media, Trudeau said: “We are not detaining people. These are public health measures that ensure we are keeping people safe.”

Trudeau added: “The conditions are always adequate.”

He said that if PCR test results come back early, and the result is negative, then travellers can complete their 14-day quarantine at home as planned.

Trudeau was also asked about the start date for the hotel quarantines and the other new measures including mandatory PCR tests at the 4 Canadian airports currently accepting international flights.

“We will be making further announcements in the next few days,” he responded.