Toronto: Air travellers to Canada will quarantine in a hotel starting on February 22 as they await the result of a coronavirus test, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.
Trudeau previously announced stricter restrictions would be imposed on nonessential air travellers in response to new, likely more contagious variants.
Government officials confirmed that with limited exceptions nonessential air travellers will be required to reserve a three-night stay in a government-authorised hotel at their own expense before they depart for Canada.
Those who cross the US border by land won't have to isolate at a hotel, but will have to show a negative test taken within three days before arrival and be tested on arrival as well as toward the end of 14-day quarantine at home or elsewhere.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said less than 5 per cent of those who cross the land border are nonessential, one reason why the hotel stay is not required for those who enter by land.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said vaccinated Canadians will not be exempt because research is still not clear on whether those vaccinated can still transmit the virus to others.
Some Canadian snowbirds are getting vaccinated in Florida and Arizona.
Trudeau said it could take up to three days for test results to be available and he previously said the cost of a hotel stay for air travellers could be USD 2,000 Canadian (US 1,576.). The steep cost for the hotel stay includes the cost for security, food and measures hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe.
Travellers would then isolate at home or elsewhere if the test is negative. Canada already requires those entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days and bans nonessential travel to the country.
The Canadian Snowbird Association has said cost of the hotel stay poses financial hardship for many and travellers who test negative should be able to quarantine in their homes.
Canadian officials have said Trudeau spoke with US President Joe Biden about the possibility of getting Pfizer vaccines from a plant in nearby Michigan, whose first 100 million doses are already contracted for by the US government.
Trudeau said he spoke to the chief executive Pfizer and said he confirmed Canada will get 4 million doses from that company before the end of March, as well as 10.8 million doses in April, May and June more than previously announced.
Trudeau also said Canada is buying another 4 million Moderna vaccines and is looking at the possibility of getting vaccines from India.