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Govt. Panel Recommends End of Hotel Quarantine; Other Changes

The Canadian government's COVID-19 expert advisory panel says Canada's quarantine hotel program should be discontinued.

The panel on Thursday updated its border report and suggest other changes to Canada's current border rules, including a policy in which travellers who are fully vaccinated would no longer need to take a pre-departure test, undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine and wouldn't need to take the COVID-19 test seven days after arriving. They also recommend the controversial hotel quarantine program be abolished, which is wonderful news for the industry.

Partially-vaccinated travellers would still need to take pre-departure tests within 72 hours of their flight, and another test within 24 hours of arriving, Global News reports. Those testing negative would be allowed to leave quarantine. Unvaccinated travellers, according to the panel, should still have to undergo the same testing methods as partially-vaccinated travellers, but would have to quarantine for seven days until they receive a negative test result.

WestJet said it welcomes the findings outlined by the Health Canada Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel in the Border Measures Report.

"Over the past 15 months, WestJet has been requesting science-based travel guidance and this report represents a responsible path forward,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO. “These findings are evidence-based recommendations that are proportionate and reduce risks. We ask that the government immediately prepare a safe restart plan based on this report and current global policies. With vaccinations ramping up, Canadians need to know they can travel once again.”

"As vaccination rates continue to rise, we are optimistic that based off the report’s recommendations, Canadians can look forward to the easement of onerous border measures. WestJet will continue to advocate for policy changes that support Canada’s recovery and the restoration of more than 750,000 travel and tourism industry jobs," Sims said.

Mike McNaney, President and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents Canada’s largest carriers (Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation and WestJet), issued the following statement in response to the report released today by the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel:

“The report by the Panel contains a series of key recommendations including elimination of quarantine and pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated travellers, elimination of hotel quarantine for partially vaccinated or non- vaccinated travellers, reduction of quarantine duration overall to potentially 7 days instead of 14, and the effective use of rapid antigen testing.

We strongly support these recommendations, and they are in-keeping with policy measures that are already being implemented by other countries as they release their plans for the safe re-start of aviation and travel.

The overall report represents a wide series of data and science-based recommendations, prepared after months of review by an independent advisory panel consisting of experts in epidemiology, virology, as well as advanced data analytics.

With vaccination rates continuing to climb aggressively in Canada, and as provincial governments come forth with their re-start plans, the federal government must move immediately to engage with industry and utilize the Panel’s report as the basis now to implement a clear and strong re-start strategy for Canada."

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