Canada’s current requirement for all incoming air travellers to quarantine in hotels for up to three days should be discontinued, a COVID-19 expert advisory panel has recommended.
The panel included the recommendations in its updated border report Thursday, proposing several changes to the country’s existing border mandates.
Among the recommendations was the discontinuation of the mandatory hotel quarantine in “government-authorized accommodations” for all air travellers coming into Canada. The hotel stay, which could run travellers as much as as $2,000 out of pocket, was called “expensive” and “inconsistent” with the incubation period of the virus.
The report also noted that the stay was not equally applied to travellers over land or air, and people could potentially bypass it by paying a fine.
“Recent research also indicates that specific supports related to financial support, temporary accommodation if necessary, clear communication, effective contact tracing and routine monitoring would help to increase compliance (as opposed to enforcing a specific quarantine location),” the report said.
The panel also made several recommendations based on the vaccination status of travellers.
They advised that travellers who are fully vaccinated should no longer need to take a pre-departure test or undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine. They would also be exempt from the earlier recommended COVID-19 test taken seven days after arrival, the panel recommended.
Partially-vaccinated travellers would still need to take pre-departure tests within 72 hours of their flight, and another test within 24 hours of arriving.
Unvaccinated travellers, according to the panel, should still have to undergo the same testing methods as partially-vaccinated travellers, but would have to quarantine at their destination for seven days until they receive a negative test result.
Travellers that need to quarantine however, like those who test positive for COVID-19, would still need to stay in designated government facilities, the experts recommended.
When asked earlier on Thursday on his government’s hotel quarantine policy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not say when it would end despite the ramp in vaccinations in both Canada and abroad.
The Liberal government has repeatedly faced criticism over the mandatory hotel quarantine since it was first brought into effect earlier this year.
In a joint statement following the report’s release, Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair defended the current measures.
“The Government of Canada will also consider the panel’s recommendations to determine how testing and quarantine strategies should evolve to address vaccination status,” read the statement, which was obtained by The Canadian Press.
Global News has not been sent a copy of the statement, despite sending requests for comment to both Health Canada and the Ministry of Public Safety and Preparedness.
— With files from The Canadian Press