OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the new mandatory PCR test requirement at the four Canadian airports receiving international passengers – Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver – as well as the three-day hotel quarantine, will start “as soon as possible.”
In his COVID-19 briefing this morning Trudeau also said that the federal government is looking at ways to strengthen Canada’s land border measures. “We’ll have more to say on this soon,” he said.
It was one week ago today that Trudeau announced that passengers arriving in Canada must quarantine at a supervised hotel until their test results come back negative, at their own expense, pegged at $2,000 per person. With a negative test result, travellers will wait out the rest of their quarantine at home, under increased surveillance. In the event of a positive test result, travellers must go to government facilities in an effort to determine if the strain is one of the new variants.
All four of Canada’s major airlines – Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat – have also suspended their winter season sun flights, through April 30.
AIR CANADA TALKS REFUNDS
Meanwhile in a meeting with Parliament’s transport committee yesterday, David Rheault, Air Canada’s managing director for government and community relations, declined to provide details about the number of passengers affected by the lack of refunds in the wake of COVID-19, saying the information could be commercially sensitive.
Rheault also told MPs Thursday that Air Canada will not issue refunds to passengers unless it receives a bailout from the government.
Air Canada says that it is not required to issue the refunds and that the company needs to preserve liquidity for when air travel restarts after the pandemic.
The federal government’s financial assistance package for Canada’s airlines, announced Nov. 8 but with no further details since that time, is contingent on the airlines offering out-of-pocket passengers the option of refunds. All four airlines are offering the option of refunds for passengers impacted by the winter sun flights suspension announced Jan. 29.
With files from The Canadian Press