WOODBRIDGE, ON — Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he wants to use COVID-19 testing to reduce the 14-day quarantine for travellers – and he’s prepared to look at implementing it on a provincial level, despite the fact that airports are a federal jurisdiction, if the federal government won’t help out.
At a media Q&A session yesterday in Woodbridge, ON, Ford was asked about the Canada-U.S. border, currently closed until at least Nov. 21, with some saying they won’t be surprised if the closure extends into early 2021.
Ford said he hadn’t had any discussions with the federal government, with either the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister, about the border in the past couple of weeks.
“What I want to do, I want to start getting people tested as they’re coming off [the planes], rather than isolate for 14 days,” said Ford.
“Let’s get them tested immediately when they come off the plane, and test them again five or six days later, and that will reduce the isolation,” he added.
“But I need the federal government’s help. And if they don’t want to do it, we’ll go it alone, even though it’s not our jurisdiction. We will put people at the two largest airports, in Toronto and in Ottawa … I know there are many other crossings that the vehicles go across but it’s better than not having anyone at the airports.”
Ford added: “I really would like their support and I would like to action this as soon as possible.”
CALGARY AIRPORT’S RAPID TESTING PILOT PROJECT
On Oct. 23 Calgary International Airport and the Alberta government announced they were embarking on a COVID-19 testing pilot project with an eye to reducing the 14-day quarantine, in partnership with the federal government.
With YYC’s testing project, now underway, as long as passengers get a negative result within 48 hours, they just have to go back for a re-test in 6 – 7 days. Canadian travellers returning from international destinations can follow the same protocol with the voluntary tests, but cannot travel outside Alberta for 14 days.
At that time Ford said he would be keeping “a really sharp eye” on the project.
TRUDEAU’S MESSAGE FOR CANADA’S PREMIERS AND MAYORS
At a media briefing today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed to make subtle but pointed reference in part to Premier Ford’s Nov. 9 remarks.
Trudeau urged Canada’s premiers, and mayors, to adhere to Canada’s public health guidelines as the pandemic ramps up with the second wave. If they don’t, “that’s how we end up with businesses going out of business,” said Trudeau.
“We know that acting quickly to shut down early is better when surges start. We all want things to get back to normal. If businesses go under because of COVID-19 surges, then we end up worse off.”
He noted that Europe “went through a bit of a loosening over the summer, and now they have to bring in more restrictions.”
The EU had reopened to travel to many countries this summer, including Canada, but has since had to backtrack and enforce more lockdowns in the wake of much higher COVID-19 numbers.
Trudeau added: “If you think something is missing in our support … tell us.”