Additional details now available regarding Canada’s mandatory hotel quarantine requirement and new COVID-19 measures at land ports-of-entry

Introduction

We previously discussed the Canadian Government’s intention to impose a mandatory hotel quarantine requirement on air travellers. We also previously discussed its implementation of a negative COVID-19 test requirement at the land ports of entry. Additional information relating to these new COVID-19 measures is now available. 

Post-arrival COVID-19 test and mandatory hotel quarantine requirement

As reported by the media, Prime Minister Trudeau announced on February 12, 2021, that the mandatory hotel requirement (and the related post-arrival COVID-19 test requirement) will become effective on February 22, 2021.  As of this date, international travellers arriving in Canada by air will be required to do the following:

  1. They will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival, at their own cost; and
  2. They will be required to reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for up to three nights, at their own cost, while they await their test results. Travellers will stay in and pay for their hotel (as well as all associated costs for food, cleaning and security) while they await the results of the COVID-19 molecular test that they submitted on arrival.

On February 8, 2021, the Public Health Agency of Canada (“PHAC”) announced its selection criteria for prospective hotels. According to this guidance, the main responsibilities of designated hotels will be to:

  1. Provide safe transportation of travellers from the airport to the hotel;
  2. Provide travellers with three nights lodging that meets PHAC requirements;
  3. Provide traveller necessities, including meals, telephone, Wi-Fi in a safe and accessible environment; and
  4. Report traveller information to the PHAC, including check-in/check-out, and compliance with the Quarantine Act.

The selection criteria for designated hotels include the following (among others)

  1. Located no more than 10 km from one of the four international airports receiving international travellers;
  2. Online registration, check-in and check-out procedures;
  3. Clear and congestion-free access to hotel room;
  4. Secured, controlled, and monitored entry and exit points;
  5. Measures in place to monitor compliance with mandatory isolation requirements (e.g., traveller movement within hotel);
  6. Provide appropriate transportation from airport to hotel;
  7. Sufficient ventilation capacity;
  8. Contactless meal delivery to traveller rooms;
  9. Free WiFi access;
  10. Physical separation between regular clients and travellers (this includes separate floors, elevators/staircases);
  11. One-way circulation for entry and exit of travellers;
  12. Staff trained on all appropriate personal preventive and occupational health and safety measures;
  13. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) in each traveller’s room, throughout common areas, and at all entry/exit points;
  14. Staff trained on COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting guidelines and know how to apply these best cleaning practices for public spaces;
  15. Capacity to report daily the number of travellers;
  16. Capacity to generate daily list of travellers (check-in, check-out); and
  17. Capacity to report non-compliant travellers to PHAC.

The application process for hotels is now closed.  A list of designated hotels should become available soon. 

COVID-19 measures at the land border

As we previously reported, the Canadian Government imposed a pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirement at the land ports of entry, which became effective as of February 15, 2021.  Additional details regarding this requirement are not available.

Based on the pre-departure COVID-19 test requirements applicable to air travel, we suspected that it might be possible to present proof of a positive COVID-19 test taken between 14 and 90 days of arrival, as an alternative to a negative COVID-19 test result.  As reported by the media, the Canadian Government confirmed on February 12, 2021, that this would be acceptable at the land ports of entry also. 

We previously reported that travellers entering Canada at the land border would be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival.  However, on February 12, 2021, officials confirmed to the media such travellers would also need to take a second COVID-19 test toward the end of their 14-day period of self-quarantine. 

According to media reports, the following five land ports of entry will have onsite testing as of February 22, 2021:

  1. Douglas, British Columbia;
  2. Coutts, Alberta;
  3. Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, Niagara region, Ontario;
  4. St-Bernard-de-Lacolle (Highway 15), Quebec; and
  5. St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

An additional eleven ports of entry will also have onsite testing as of March 4, 2021:

  1. Ambassador Bridge, Windsor, Ontario;
  2. Blue Water Bridge, Point Edward, Ontario;
  3. Lansdowne (Thousand Islands Bridge), Ontario;
  4. Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls, Ontario;
  5. Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, Ontario;
  6. Fort Erie (Peace Bridge), Ontario;
  7. Emerson West Lynne, Manitoba;
  8. Pacific Highway, British Columbia;
  9. Huntingdon, British Columbia;
  10. St-Armand, Quebec; and
  11. Stanstead (Route 55), Quebec.

The government said it is working to supply all other ports of entry with test kits for travellers, in order to meet these requirements.

On February 12, 2021, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair informed the media that all travellers arriving by land will also be required to submit their travel and contact information, including their quarantine plan, electronically through the ArriveCAN, before crossing the border.  Previously, ArriveCAN was mandatory only for air travel. 

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Henry Chang

About Henry Chang

Henry J. Chang is a partner in the Firm’s Employment and Labor Group and Tax Group. He currently practices in the areas of Canadian and United States business immigration law, international business law, and cannabis law.

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