Bill Blair

Courtesy CBC

Drivers who fail to show proof of a COVID test may face criminal prosecution under pandemic controls introduced at midnight last night.

“There may be substantial fines going up to as much as $3,000 or even a criminal prosecution,” said Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to Blacklock’s Reporter.

“Cancel your vacation plans – stay home. Respect the rules.”

“Non-essential” motorists including passengers must show proof they’d tested negative for the coronavirus a maximum of three days before their arrival at a border crossing.

Blair said effective February 22 drivers will also be required to take a second molecular test at Customs, and show they have a “quarantine plan” to self-isolate for two weeks.

“We don’t have the ability to turn them back or take other measures to ensure they have had the test previously,” said Blair.

“We cannot refuse entry to Canadians who have that right.”

“What happens if either one of those two tests is positive?” asked a reporter.

“If an individual tests positive in every case, they would be referred to the Public Health Agency so appropriate isolation measures can be taken immediately to protect Canadians from that individual,” replied Blair.

“We believe that through these effective measures, appropriate screening and the testing measures in particular that we have put in place coupled with robust and enforced quarantine orders, it is the best way to prevent these variants from spreading across our borders into Canada.”

The Minister did not say if drivers who fail a border test would be forced into a quarantine hotel at their own expense. Effective February 22, all air passengers on arrival in Canada will be required to book three nights’ stay at a federally-approved quarantine hotel and pay for cleaning and testing, an estimated $2,000 total.

“I think it is important that we adhere to the public health advice that we are all getting, that we do our part as Canadians to try and protect our health care system,” said Health Minister Patricia Hajdu.

“We continue to detect variants” of COVID-19. That is why we are putting these additional measures in place. Now is not the time to travel.”

The Public Health Agency to date has housed quarantined travelers at eleven hotels nationwide at taxpayers’ expense. “Federally designated quarantine facilities, typically hotels, are not internment camps,” said André Gagnon, spokesperson for the Agency.

Quarantine costs are estimated at $37 million at hotels in Vancouver, Kelowna, Whitehorse, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal, Fredericton, Halifax and St. John’s.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief

Dave Naylor is News Editor & Calgary Bureau Chief of the Western Standard based in the Calgary Headquarters. He served as City Editor of the Calgary Sun & covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years.

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