TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that starting next week any nonessential traveler arriving in Canada by land will need to show a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test or face a fine if they don’t have one.
Trudeau said customs officers can’t send Canadians back to the U.S. if they don’t have a test because they are technically on Canadian soil but said the fine will be up to $3,000 Canadian (US$2,370) and the traveler will be subject to extensive follow up by health officials if they don’t show a negative test.
So-called snowbirds who reside in warm U.S. states part-time are included in the COVID-19 test requirement.
The land border already remains closed to nonessential travelers who are not Canadian.
Canada requires people arriving by air to show a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test within three days of arriving. And testing upon arrival will also soon be mandatory at the four Canadian airports where international flights are allowed.
Last month, Trudeau announced stricter restrictions on air travelers in response to new, likely more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus — including making it mandatory for air travelers to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense when they arrive. But the government hasn’t yet announced when the mandatory hotel stays will start. The air traveler would stay at a government-designated hotel until the results of a negative PCR test are received. The government has said the cost is expected to be more than $2,000 Canadian (US$1570) for a three-day stay. A test will be required on the 10th day after people return.
The steep cost for the hotel stay includes the cost for a private PCR test, security, food and the cost of measures the designated hotels will have to take to keep their workers safe.
Canada has also suspended airline service to Mexico and all Caribbean destinations until April 30.
Canada already requires those entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days.
More and more governments are thinking about ways to be more aggressive because of the new variants, delays in vaccines, the challenges with getting the population vaccinated and the strains on health care systems.
Canadian officials have been urging Canadians to cancel all nonessential travel and are trying to eliminate it.