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  • Graham

Update: 3-day hotel quarantine required for anyone flying into Canada

Starting February 22, air passengers landing in Canada will face new COVID-safety requirements. In addition to the negative PCR-test result you'll need to show to board a flight to Canada, you'll now take a second test when you land. Until the results of that test come in, you'll be required to quarantine in an approved hotel, at your own expense.

This could be up to 72 hours, but the actual requirement is simply that your mandatory hotel quarantine lasts until your test result comes back.

If your arrival test is negative, you'll do the 11 remaining days of quarantine at home as usual. If your arrival test is positive, you'll do the rest of your quarantine in a designated quarantine facility. Health Canada keeps the list of these facilities confidential, but they are generally understood to be mid-market airport hotels booked out for use as quarantine facilities. Either way, at the end of the 14 day overall quarantine, you'll do a third and final test, and providing that's negative, you're all set.

Here's how the quarantine will work:

Before you board your flight to Canada, you'll need to reserve a room at an approved hotel near the airport at which you *enter* Canada. For example, if you're flying Frankfurt-Toronto-Winnipeg, you'll do the mandatory hotel portion of your quarantine in Toronto, then continue on to Winnipeg after you've tested negative.

Details on which hotels are available, and how to book, as well as details of what travellers can expect the hotel to provide, are available on the Government of Canada's website. You'll book by calling American Express Global Business travel at the phone numbers provided.

There's a choice of hotels offered, and as I write this, the list of hotels offered is "incomplete and will be finalized in the coming days". The good news is, it looks like this is going to cost far less than the original government estimate of "at least $2,000"; as of February 19, hotels were quoting $1,000-1,300 for a single person being quarantined.

To get on the approved list, hotels have to include all meals, WiFi and phone access, as well as arrangements for quarantined travellers daily time outdoors. Included in the cost of the room, hotels are also responsible for transporting passengers to and from the airport, as well as for on-site security - in other words, security staff to ensure you comply with quarantine. Note that violation of quarantine rules does count as breaking the law, and could lead to substantial fines and/or jail time.

The big puzzle piece that's still missing is what happens to connecting passengers who need to rebook their flights, halfway through the itinerary. When I spoke with Transport Canada about this last week, their answer was that they're leaving this entirely up to the airlines. I'll update those details as I get them.


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