The Canadian government will now require arriving visitors to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival in addition to its current strict quarantine requirement for all international travelers.
Canada and the United States have agreed to keep the northern border closed to nonessential travel until at least Jan. 21, 2021. Canada also requires travelers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, which includes daily check-ins from a representative of the Canadian government.
Those who break quarantine can be referred to law enforcement and subject to 6 months in jail or a $750,000 fine.
“This morning the cabinet COVID committee met to look at what additional measure can be put in place and how we can enhance existing measures,” Canada’s Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc said during a press conference.
LeBlanc gave no official launch date for the new requirement but said Canada will “quickly implement the requirement for all arriving passengers to have a negative PCR COVID test three days before arriving in Canada.”
Canada advises travelers to stay home
Many snowbirds have already arrived from Canada to their winter homes in Arizona.
During the press conference, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair conceded that the country could not keep Canadians from traveling but urged them to reconsider travel plans.
“We strongly advise against all discretionary travel,” he said.
Blair said Canada has increased the number of Canadian Border Services officers at airports to ensure travelers understand quarantine requirements and to find out travelers’ quarantine plans. He emphasized the new requirement is in addition to quarantine, not a substitution for it, saying the quarantine mandate is the country’s “strongest and most effective measure” against the virus.
“On the rare occasion that someone brings the COVID-19 into Canada, when they are in quarantine the virus stops there. It does not spread further into the community,” Blair said.
The news comes as Canada has recorded cases of the U.K. variant of COVID-19. As of Dec. 30, Canada had reported 595,506 total cases and 15,378 deaths due to the virus. On the same day, the CDC in the United States reported 19,432,125 total cases and 337,419 deaths.
Where to get a test in Phoenix
If you are headed back to Canada and need to locate a COVID-19 test in Phoenix, here are some of your options.
The Arizona Department of Health Services: ADHS maintains a list of current test sites on its website azdhs.gov.
Your Airline: Some airlines are offering access to COVID-19 testing for an added fee. Check with your airline to see if it offers it for your destination.
Walgreens and CVS: Walgreens and CVS offer free onsite testing to those who qualify. You’ll need to fill out a questionnaire on the website to determine if you fit the criteria. At CVS, if you don’t qualify for a free test, you can pay for it out of pocket. It’ll cost $139.
Sky Harbor International Airport: The XpresCheck COVID-19 testing clinic is located in the Drugs & More store before security on Level 3 in Terminal 4. Hours of operation are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Mondays and PCR test results are typically available within one to three days. It also offers Rapid Molecular COVID-19 tests at Sky Harbor with results reportedly available in less than 15 minutes.
Reservations are advisable but walk-in testing is available.
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport terminal: Paradigm Laboratory has partnered with the Arizona Department of Health Services to offer free testing at the terminal. The clinic is located behind security so you must be a ticked passenger. You can visit www.labfinder.com/aza/ to schedule a test or scan the QR code found on signs in the airport. The test site is currently operating Thursday through Monday with plans for expanding over the next few weeks to seven days a week.
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport outside security: Paradigm Laboratory told the Arizona Republic it plans to open another location near Gateway Airport in partnership with ADHS that will be available to the general public. It hopes to open the site, located at 7255 E. Ray Road near the economy parking lot, on Jan. 4, 2021.
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