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Canada introducing new mandatory COVID-19 rules for international travellers

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Anyone entering Canada by air as of Nov. 21 will be required to submit a quarantine plan and a novel coronavirus “self-assessment” before getting on a flight, according to new rules released by the Public Health Agency of Canada on Monday.

A news release from the health agency also said travellers entering Canada by land are “strongly encouraged” to do the same.

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The information must be submitted digitally through the ArriveCAN app. Anyone who cannot submit the information through the app, because of a disability or “inadequate infrastructure,” will need to contact the government using a toll-free telephone number prior to starting their trip.

Under the old rules, passengers did not need to provide this information until they arrived at a Canadian airport. They also had the option of completing a paper form.

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Anyone who does not comply with the new rules could be subject to enforcement action upon arriving in Canada, the health agency said. This includes penalties ranging from a verbal warning to a $1,000 fine.

“This is a significant step in stopping the spread of COVID-19 as traveller information can be shared quickly and securely with provinces and territories to contact travellers for public health follow-up, and with law enforcement to verify compliance with the mandatory isolation order,” the health agency said.

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The new rules will also require travellers to use the ArriveCAN app to submit updates after they arrive in Canada, including confirmation that a person has made it to their place of quarantine or mandatory self-isolation. Anyone in quarantine will also need to submit a daily update on their COVID-19 health status throughout the duration of their quarantine.

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The government says those who fail to provide this information after arriving in Canada will be considered a “high priority” for law enforcement, which has been used extensively throughout the pandemic to verify whether people are adhering to the mandatory quarantine and self-isolation rules.

Travellers who are exempt from the government’s mandatory quarantine rules will not be required to submit a quarantine plan prior to boarding a flight, nor will they be required to provide a daily health update after arriving in Canada, the health agency said.

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Passengers who are only transiting through Canada — meaning their final destination is in another country — are not required to submit any information using the ArriveCAN app prior to entering the country.

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The health agency also said there will be dedicated express lanes at major international airports to allow passengers who’ve submitted their information prior to travelling to move through the screening process more quickly.

In a written statement, Health Canada said anyone who does not provide the required information prior to boarding could be referred to public health officials for additional screening. These individuals may also face penalties, including fines and possibly even prosecution.

“If the traveller is deemed not compliant, the border services officer (BSO) may refer the traveller to the Public Health Agency of Canada and in cases of non-compliance, the person may be subject to further enforcement measures, including, but not limited to receiving a warning, being issued a ticket (ranging to $1,000) under the Contraventions Act or even being prosecuted for an offence of the Quarantine Act,” said Health Canada spokesperson André Gagnon.