Air Canada urges the government to ease quarantine restrictions for travellers
Air Canada's chief medical officer has issued a letter urging the Canadian government to consider a science-based approach to easing the Quarantine Act restrictions.
The airline proposes that the country should adopt approaches that have already been successfully implemented by the European Union, the U.K. and other worldwide jurisdictions, such as pre-departure testing or travel corridors between countries that have been deemed safe.
Air Canada says these alternative approaches to travel would "strike a better balance for travellers and for the Canadian economy without adversely impacting public health."
Canada's quarantine restrictions, which have remained unchanged since March, require travellers to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival into Canada.
Air Canada doesn't propose relaxing U.S. border restrictions at this time. Instead, the airline wishes to replace the current quarantine requirements for those countries with a low COVID-19 risk from a public health perspective with more "proportionate, evidence-based measures and experiences from other countries."
The airline points to other G20 countries that have implemented evidence-based approaches to travel by minimizing the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
For example, the U.K. France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal have determined safe corridors of travel between approved jurisdictions.
In The Caribbean Islands, travellers require a pre-departure, medically certified negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country.
A waiver of quarantine requirements is only issued following a negative test on arrival to Iceland, Austria and Luxembourg.
Mandatory testing is also carried out on arrival to South Korea, Hong Kong, Macao and the United Arab Emirates.
"Canada has made virtually no change to its quarantine restrictions since mid-March, despite continuing improvements containing the spread of the virus both in our country and in many others," said Air Canada's chief medical officer, Dr. Jim Chung.
"This is severely impacting Air Canada, our customers and employees as well as an overall recovery. Moreover, there are many other interests affected by the quarantine restrictions — not only jobs and pensions, but also the social and economic wellbeing of individuals and communities that rely on air travel, as well as basic freedoms of mobility."
Air Canada already requires face coverings onboard flights, as well as taking customers' temperatures before boarding.
The airline has also been exploring new technology, which would allow them to test for COVID-19 and get results within the hour.
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