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COVID-19: Expert panel recommends Canada end mandatory quarantine hotel stay

Last Updated May 28, 2021 at 6:43 am PDT

The Westin Wall Centre Vancouver Airport Hotel is one of the federal governments approved quarantine facilities. (Image Credit: CityNews)
Summary

The report says travel restrictions tailored to a specific country are likely to carry limited value

The panel also calls for measures at land and air borders to be 'consistent as much as possible'

Airline industry welcomes report recommendations, says it will engage with federal government

OTTAWA — An expert panel recommends the government no longer require travellers arriving by air into Canada quarantine for up to three days at a hotel.

The call comes from a new report by a panel of experts assembled to provide advice on COVID-19 screening and testing measures.

While it says international travellers should continue to be screened for more transmissible variants of the virus, it adds Canada should discontinue its policy of making air travellers stay in “government-authorized accommodations.”

The report says travel restrictions tailored to a specific country are likely to carry limited value because of the global nature of travel, adding this is because travellers can get around restrictions and it’s likely variants have already spread to other countries by the time measures are brought in.

The panel also calls for measures at land and air borders to be “consistent as much as possible.”

“The panel does not recommend implementation of country-specific testing or quarantine requirements at this time, except under unique circumstances.”

Asked earlier in the day Thursday about the mandatory hotel quarantine policy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t say when it may end, but that such measures would remain in place.

Airlines welcome report recommendations

Mike McNaney, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, says the group strongly welcomes the report.

“It is a science-based and data-based report and recommendations, which is exactly what the federal government says it wishes to base policy on,” he said. “And if you look at the issues that it has addressed, the recommendations are in keeping with the policy moves we’re seeing in other jurisdictions around the world as they bring forth their safe restart plans for aviation travel.”

He says it also addresses major issues and questions around travel in a post-pandemic world.

McNaney explains the next step is engaging with the federal government now that the report has been released.

“Given that the panel itself was created by the federal government to provide it with excellent advice and science-based advice that we’ll now be able to use this report as the basis for rapidly moving forward,” he told CityNews.