This morning in a press conference Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that all four Canadian airlines, Air Transat, Air Canada, Sunwing and WestJet have agreed to suspend all flights to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries until April 30, 2021. This will be in effect as of January 31, 2021.
“The government asked, and we agreed,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “While we know that air travel is responsible for less than two per cent of cases since the start of the crisis, and even less today, we recognize the Government of Canada’s ask is a precautionary measure. We also note that the overwhelming majority of quarantine exemptions, well over 90 per cent in fact, are connected to land borders and not air travel. We have responded to their request and will suspend service to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.”
All flights to Mexico and the Caribbean Islands have been suspended however, the airlines are making arrangements for their clients who are already away and are trying to get them home.
When travellers return home they will have to spend up to three days in a selected hotel until they receive their results of a COVID-19 test. If they test positive the travellers will have to spend 14 days in the hotel at their own expense. If they test negative they will be allowed to return home and spend the remainder of the 14 day quarantine in their own residence. All in all this is expected to cost the traveller around $2,000, with no aid from the government.
The Government of Canada will introduce a 72-hour pre-arrival testing requirement (molecular test) for travellers seeking entry in land mode, with limited exceptions such as commercial truckers. In addition, we continue to collaborate with partners in the United States to strengthen our border measures and keep our countries safe.
To ensure travellers’ awareness and compliance with quarantine requirements, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with security companies to help complete compliance checks for travellers arriving in Canada. Employees of these companies were trained by PHAC and authorized as Screening Officers under the Quarantine Act. These Screening Officers will visit travellers’ quarantine locations to establish contact, confirm identity and confirm that travellers are at the place of quarantine they identified upon entry into Canada. These new officers will conduct visits in 35 cities across the country, starting in Montréal and Toronto.