A few months ago, the Canadian government instituted a mandatory quarantine for travellers coming into Canada via international flights. Travellers are required to at an approved hotel upon arrival to Canada for up to three days pending a negative COVID-19 test result. This is in addition to the requirement to provide a negative test result prior to boarding the flight.

The program has been controversial for a few reasons:

  1. It does not apply to anyone arriving in Canada by land, creating what some view as a loophole to avoid the requirement; and
  2. The hotel stay can cost an individual up to $2,000;
  3. The fine for disobeying the order is $3,000, prompting some travellers to simply skip the hotel quarantine and pay the fine instead.

Some travellers have sought to avoid the requirement by flying to a border airport in the United States and driving or walking across the border. Further, some presumably wealthier travellers have opted to skip the requirement and pay the fine instead, once again sowing division in how the program applies, and who must comply.

Federal Advisory Panel Recommends Ending Hotel Quarantine

A federal advisory committee recommended that the government end the mandatory hotel quarantine. As the reason for the recommendation, the panel cited in part the issue of travellers opting to pay the fine instead of comply, as well as the administrative burden associated with implementing and managing the program, and the inconsistent rules for those arriving by air versus by land.

Additional Recommendations from Federal Advisory Panel

No Country-Specific Testing or Quarantine Rules

The panel has also recommended that Canada refrain from imposing country-specific testing or quarantine measures except under unique circumstances:

The global nature of travel and human mobility means that country-specific travel restrictions are likely to be of limited value. This is partially because travellers are able to circumvent such restrictions. As well, by the time such restrictions are implemented, the relevant variant will likely have already spread to other countries.

Vaccines & Travel

The panel has recommended the federal government create a system for vaccine documentation with respect to travel as soon as possible. The federal government has stated it is collaborating with international counterparts on designing a system, which should be unveiled soon. The panel recommended some guidelines for travel based on the following categories:

  • Unvaccinated people who are not exempt
    • Recommended: the standard 72-hour pre-departure COVID-19 test, another test on arrival, a mandatory quarantine plan, and a third test administered 7 days post-arrival.
  • People with the first of a two-dose vaccine who are not exempt
    • Recommended: travellers provide proof of the first dose, with a stipulation that anyone who has not received their second dose within the recommended window will be considered completely unvaccinated. All other steps remain the same as for unvaccinated travellers, except quarantine will only be required until confirmation of a negative test result upon arrival. Further, there would be no requirement for a follow-up test after 7 days.
  • People who have been fully vaccinated
    • Recommended: travellers provide proof of vaccination (acceptable proof to be determined by the federal government). No pre-departure test would be required, but travellers would still be tested upon arrival for tracking purposes. There would be no requirement to quarantine unless the test on arrival reveals a postivie result.

Federal Government Increases Fine for Breaking or Ignoring Quarantine Rules

Perhaps in an attempt to reduce the instances of travellers opting to pay the $3,000 fine rather than stay in a hotel upon arrival in Canada, the federal government announced an increase in the fine. As of Friday, June 4, violations of the federal Quarantine Act will now carry a maximum penalty of $5,000 per person.

Around 800 fines have been issued for refusal to comply with the hotel quarantine, the majority of which have been levied in Ontario.

Contact Garson Immigration Law in Toronto for Up-to-Date Travel and Immigration Guidance

Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application. 

The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.

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