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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Governments of Canada and Alberta to run COVID-19 rapid testing program at Calgary International Airport & Coutts land border crossing


The Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta announced a new 26 week pilot project for rapid COVID-19 testing at Calgary International Airport:

“YYC Calgary International Airport is proud to be the first and only airport in Canada to have a government-approved testing pilot for arriving international passengers—which we hope will lead to reducing and one day eliminating the current 14-day self-isolation requirements. This innovative testing is the lifeline our airport and airline partners need to instill confidence in air travel,” said Bob Sartor, President & CEO, The Calgary Airport Authority. (Source Calgary Airport Authority)

The project will start on November 2nd for residents of Alberta and eligible international travellers arriving into Calgary on a non-stop flight. Results should be available within two days which could shorten those arriving passengers quarantine period from 14 days to 2 days. 

After taking the rapid test, guests must:

  • stay within Alberta after their arrival
  • enter quarantine until test results are delivered in as little as 2 days
    • If the results are negative, guests are no longer required to stay at home. If results are positive, the 14-day quarantine is still required.
  • commit to submitting a second test after 6-7 days for validation and data collection
  • provide daily check-ins
  • avoid large events and senior care facilities
  • wear a mask in public

**This pilot project may be restricted or broadened at any point as the Governments of Canada and Alberta evaluate through the trial.

Guests who do not participate in the pilot must adhere to the 14 day quarantine. (Source WestJet)

This is such welcome news for the travel industry! It is that much needed boost and first step the industry requires to bounce back from the pandemic. I would assume that it may be expanded to other airports in short order after seeing how it goes in Calgary. Calgary's probably a good choice as there aren't very many passengers arriving each day from the U.S. or internationally compared to Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. Once they get the hang of things here and show success I would think it will be quickly expanded to those other airports. Should it be successful I think many more Canadians would look at travelling outside of Canada knowing that they could potentially only quarantine for two days versus 14 days. It's that latter amount that people just can't afford to do, especially those who can't work from home. Right now if you want to take a one week vacation out of Canada you pretty much have to plan on three weeks of time off due to that quarantine period.

FYI the program is also being introduced the Coutts land border crossing on the Alberta-Montana border.


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