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Air passengers entering U.S. must have pre-arrival negative COVID-19 test

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WATCH: On the heels of mandatory testing requirements for air travelers coming into Canada, new rules have been announced for those bound for the U.S. As of Jan. 26, travellers will need a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding. Jill Croteau reports – Jan 13, 2021

As an actress and filmmaker, Carolyn Bridget Kennedy divides her time between Calgary and Los Angeles.

Jetsetting between the two cities may have seemed enviable pre-pandemic. Balancing her career and her personal life with her husband means adapting to the evolving air travel requirements.

“I think our life is going to be a lot of quarantining,” Kennedy said.

Read more: Alberta trying to balance COVID-19 vaccine appointments with supply

Self-isolation and testing are going to have to become part of her routine. Effective Jan. 26, all travellers heading from Canada into the U.S. need proof of a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before boarding.

Carolyn Kennedy. Jill Croteau/Global News

“It’s going to be extremely challenging for me. To go, I’m facing 10-day quarantine and with the new test 72 hours before you fly is added in. Every time I fly, I’m going to be waiting on that test to take that flight,” Kennedy said.

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Kennedy is used to the pandemic reality. She’s directed entire films over Zoom and has been vigilant when working on set locations.

“I was on a film set in November and there was testing beforehand and outdoor eating and we were all six-feet apart, all goggles and masks and I had a COVID parasol,” Kennedy said.

Ichor testing kit. Jill Croteau/Global News

Ichor Blood Services is a private lab specimen collection company. Mike Kuzmickas, president of the Calgary-based business, said traveller demand for their COVID tests is huge.

“It’s become the international standard. Anywhere across the border, you’re going to need to show a test,” Kuzmickas said.

Read more: COVID-19: Alberta barbershop ‘rebrands’ as ‘essential service’ pet groomer to stay open

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Because Alberta Health Services doesn’t offer asymptomatic tests, Ichor saw a need for the business.

“Travellers come in on a Tuesday, get [the] test done, get results by Wednesday afternoon and catch a Thursday or Friday flight,” Kuzmickas said.

Ichor offers testing onsite at their locations and just launched a remote test you buy before you fly, priced at $225.

To avoid cheating, they’ve made the test virtual and it has to be verified by a witness online.

“The health-care system has a finite number of resources, and the government has to prioritize to test symptomatic,” Kuzmickas said. “If you’re just curious or you want to send your kid to a hockey camp, that’s something we can’t strap the public system with. You want to go to Hawaii. Taxpayers can’t be paying for that.”

Read more: COVID-19: Alberta senator travels to Hawaii over holidays

It’s not known how long these testing rules will be in place but health experts stress it’s not intended to be for your pandemic vacation. They are still recommending against non-essential travel.