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What are the COVID-19 travel rules for a trip from B.C. to California?

Last Updated Aug 28, 2020 at 11:13 am PDT

FILE - In this March 25, 2020, file photo, American Airlines jets sit idly at their gates as a jet arrives at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

California does not require arriving travellers to self-isolate

State remains under stay-at-home orders

Doctors exempt from Canada's federal Quarantine Act

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Carol and her husband live in Port Coquitlam and own a second home in Palm Desert, California.

“We are very fortunate that we have wonderful neighbours who look after our home – but have had a truck run over our front grass and has cut our water line and it has proven quite difficult to get things done from here and we are, to say the least, worried about our home and getting this fixed.”

Carol’s husband is a doctor who practises family medicine and surgery.

“My question is: Would he have to self-isolate in Palm Desert when he got there. And then upon return, would he also have to do the same for 14 days or, because he is a physician, can he return to work and take a COVID test?”


While the U.S.-Canada land border remains closed to non-essential travel, the restrictions do not extend to people who fly into the U.S.

Unlike Canada, the U.S. does not require international arrivals to self-isolate when they arrive. Nor does California, Riverside County (home to Palm Desert), or the City of Palm Desert.

California does remain under orders people to stay home except for when making essential trips such as commuting to work and shopping locally.

The state recently closed bars and some other businesses as it has seen a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, but maintenance and repair services such as plumbers – which Carol and her husband will likely need – remain open.

Carol will need to self isolate at home for 14 days when she returns to Canada. She will need to provide a self-isolation plan via a government app before returning to Canada.

But her husband is likely exempt.

The federal Quarantine Act exempts asymptomatic people who provide “medical care” from the self-isolation rule.

If the doctor is instructed to self-quarantine when he returns to Canada, he still might be able to leave his home to work if his employer deems him “critical” to delivering essential services.

If he does plan on returning to work, Carol’s husband will be urged to stay at home when not working and self-monitor for potential COVID-19 symptoms.

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