TORONTO — Stepping up its calls for stronger COVID-19 protection for Ontario’s borders, Premier Doug Ford’s government has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking that a three-day mandatory hotel quarantine measure be put in place for people coming into Canada via Ontario’s land borders.
However if Trudeau’s COVID-19 briefing today was any indication, the hotel quarantine measures won’t be extended to land border crossings any time soon.
Since February 2021 there’s been a three-day hotel quarantine rule in place for people coming into or returning to Canada by air. But so far there’s no hotel quarantine required for people coming into or returning to Canada by land, just the 14-day quarantine in place since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Air and land crossings also include PCR test requirements.
According to the CBC, the letter, sent by Ontario Deputy Premier Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, says: “We are requesting the implementation of a mandatory three-day hotel quarantine in federally designated hotels at the highest traffic crossings including those in Niagara, Windsor, Sarnia and Brockville. Some of these crossings, including the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, are located in close proximity to other crossings. It is important that all travellers in these regions are met with the same quarantine requirement, to ensure that all points of entry are protected.”
In his opening remarks at his COVID-19 briefing today, Trudeau noted the travel restrictions already in place for land border crossings at the Canada-U.S. border, from the 72-hour PCR test before crossing at the border, to PCR testing after crossing the border, to the 14-day quarantine.
Trudeau also reiterated today: “Now is not the time to travel.”
TRUDEAU RESPONSE TO ONTARIO’S REQUEST
On April 19 new restrictions took effect that include checkpoints at Ontario’s inter-provincial borders with Manitoba and Quebec. Several other provinces have enacted inter-provincial travel restrictions as well.
In recent days Ontario has also asked for mandatory pre-departure PCR testing for all domestic air travellers entering Ontario, an extension to current rules for international passengers seeking entry into Canada.
Today Trudeau said “There is a fundamental difference between someone arriving at our land border, and someone arriving at our airports from international destinations. … [land crossings at the Canada-U.S. border] are not the same thing as someone arriving from an international flight.”
Land border crossings have to present their 72-hour negative PCR test results, from tests taken in the U.S., and they’ve been in the U.S. for at least two weeks, he said. They must also take a PCR test upon arrival in Canada, and another PCR test on day 8 of their 14-day quarantine.
He added: “Premier Ford expressed his desire for more testing… these are measures the provinces can enforce themselves. It would be up to the province to lead on that.”
Reports of travellers who aren’t essential workers re-entering Canada by flying to a U.S. border city, then crossing the land border, sometimes on foot, to avoid the 3-night hotel quarantine, have been ramping up. A CBC news analysis of stats from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) shows that some 20,000 have crossed the land border since Feb. 21.