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Alberta suspending testing program at YYC with new travel rules set to take effect

Last Updated Feb 12, 2021 at 8:21 am MDT

A look outside the Calgary International Airport. (PHOTO: Crystal Laderas, CityNews)

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — Alberta is suspending its rapid testing program at the Calgary Airport to align with the new federal regulations that will take effect in the coming weeks.

Under the new federal guidelines for international travellers, all those flying in from outside of Canada will need to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and quarantine for 14-days, including up to three days at a federally designated hotel.

“This means that all air travellers arriving to Alberta from outside of Canada will need to comply with the mandatory federal testing requirement and 14-day quarantine period at that time,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said during her Thursday COVID-19 update.

Back in November, Alberta launched its pilot project which gave travellers the option to take a COVID-19 test for the possibility of cutting their quarantine time in half if the results came back negative.

Because of this program, Hinshaw says the labs are equipped to deal with the federal changes.

Hinshaw reiterated the important role the border pilot played in preventing the spread of COVID-19, saying that outside the border pilot, individuals who returned from international travel are required to quarantine in their homes when they returned but would not be tested unless they started noticing symptoms. This means only a small proportion of returning travellers were typically tested on arrival.

“Under the border pilot, since November, we’ve been able to test more than 49,000 returning travellers as soon as they arrived. The positive cases identified from this testing have included many who were not showing any symptoms,” Hinshaw said.

The pilot program was also able to test for variants, preventing them from spreading more widely.

Starting Monday, Alberta is requiring travellers who arrive at a land border crossing to show a negative PCR test from the U.S. within the previous 72 hours.

The pilot program will continue at the Coutts land border crossing until federal officials decided if further restrictions are needed.