Effective January 7, Canada is requiring that all residents and passengers entering from the Caribbean provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test before travel to Canada. Now, travelers who can legally enter Canada must now provide a negative COVID test result in addition to submitting to a 14-day quarantine. The new rule requires airlines to verify that passengers have a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test result received no more than 72 hours prior to departure. Passengers will be denied boarding without the result. At present, non-stop direct service from Canada to Belize remains suspended.
Entry Requirements, Travel Bans & More
Travelers entering Canada are required to use the ArriveCAN app or website to provide their contact information; in addition to a quarantine plan prior to or as they enter the country. Upon arrival, travelers’ quarantine plans will be reviewed by border officials and if they are not deemed “suitable,” the Canadian government will ask them to quarantine in a federal facility. By suitable, the Canadian government means that travelers must have advance plans for somewhere they can stay for at least 14 days, where they won’t have contact with those deemed higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 unless those at higher risk consent to the quarantine. Violating the quarantine requirement is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or CAD $750,000 (US$589,000) in fines.
It appears that the federal government has made an exception for travellers returning from Jamaica via WestJet and MicroLabs, a lab in Jamaica that is doing the bulk of PCR tests. However, Angella Bennett of the Jamaica Tourist Board said it was a misunderstanding that Jamaica was not able to do the tests. “The Labs were not able to process the tests volume that was needed by this weekend’s departure date. Moving forward, all passengers’ test are prioritized based on their return departure date.”
Both WestJet and its sister airline Swoop accommodated the delay. However, CHTA’s Acting CEO and Director General Vanessa Ledesma anticipates many stranded Canadians due to their inability to get tests in the required time. “On behalf of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the 33 National Hotel and Tourism Associations throughout the region, which are part of our Federation, we respectfully request reconsideration of this policy for the Caribbean,” CHTA stated in a submission to Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau and shared with Canadian High Commissions and Consulates across the region.