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Canada to require negative coronavirus test for air travelers entering country

Canada to require negative coronavirus test for air travelers entering country
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Canada will require air travelers to present a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country, officials announced Wednesday.

Travelers coming into Canada by plane will have to get a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of boarding, which Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said will likely be in place within a week, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported

Canada currently mandates that those who enter the country quarantine for 14 days, which Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said during a press conference would not be affected by the new restrictions.  

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"This is not an alternative to quarantine,” Blair said, according to the CBC. “It's an additional layer.”

Blair also countered the calls from some to reduce the 14-day quarantine period, saying “at the current time we should only be considering testing as an additional layer of defense against the illness,” according to Yahoo News. He cited the mandate as Canada’s “most effective line of defense for keeping the illness out of Canada.”

Disobedience of the quarantine period could result in up to six months in prison or up to $750,000 in fines. 

Transport Minister Marc Garneau is expected to reveal more details about the test requirement on Thursday, the network noted. Blair announced that Ottawa was exploring instituting testing at land points of entry to the country.

The country has also banned all flights from the U.K. amid the outbreak of a new COVID-19 strain estimated to be more contagious, although Canada has already confirmed cases of the strain within its borders. 

The restrictions will also follow Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s condemnation of his finance minister’s vacation to the French island of St. Barts over the holidays. Ford called the trip “unacceptable” as the government is requesting people avoid nonessential travel, The Associated Press reported.