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TORONTO — Air Canada has reportedly developed new voluntary COVID-19 testing for passengers arriving at Pearson Airport.
Potentially ready to start after Sept. 7, Air Canada’s test trial, in conjunction with the GTAA, would offer voluntary COVID-19 tests for arriving passengers, followed up by two at-home tests, according to reports from Reuters.
The idea is that this extra layer of health and safety protocol could help lay the groundwork for an easing of Canada’s current travel restrictions.
Air Canada is one of many airlines and travel and tourism companies behind the #TimeToTravel initiative, urging the Canadian government to loosen travel restrictions safely but effectively, to give the travel industry a chance at recovery while also protecting the population during the pandemic.
On Aug. 28, at a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) press conference, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam was asked if she was aware of Air Canada’s initiative. Tam said she was aware of it, and she’s interested in the results. But, she emphasized, “a negative [test] result will not excuse you from [the mandatory 14-day] quarantine.”
Tam acknowledged that Canada “has one of the most stringent quarantine measures in the entire world.”
She also repeated assertions made at press conferences throughout the pandemic that so far there have been no reports in Canada of someone who has contracted COVID-19 from a flight.
She said the quarantine is “still proven to work as a public health measure” but added that the federal government is “actively looking at options” like COVID-19 testing at airports and other measures.
Asked if there’s a timeline for that, Tam said “not at the moment.”
However, she added, “we realize that in living with this virus, we need to revisit this issue on a very real-time basis.”
The mandatory 14-day quarantine for all passengers arriving in or returning to Canada, in place since mid-March, has already been extended once as Canada works to keep its population safe from COVID-19.
On Aug. 28 Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair announced that the quarantine rule is extended to Sept. 30. Many in the industry say the quarantine is the biggest hurdle to getting the travel industry back on its feet.