Individuals traveling to Canada from abroad will no longer be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and instead will be provided rapid COVID-19 tests, the Toronto Sun reports.
According to sources with knowledge of the matter, the changes will not take place immediately but will be rolled out over time, likely beginning with major travel hubs before spreading to the rest of the country.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is expected to make a joint statement alongside Calgary Airport Authority CEO Bob Sartor on the matter later today.
The policy change comes as airlines attempt to recover from the effects of the pandemic ; air travel volume has declined by 92% since last year. Many international travelers have chosen to flaunt quarantine rules, and the rules themselves have seldom been enforced with any vigour.
The spread of coronavirus has been documented on dozens of Canadian flights both domestically and internationally, with the Toronto Sun reporting Toronto Pearson as being a "hotspot" for the spread of the virus.
Airlines have been pushing for rapid testing both prior to departure and after arrival in an effort to make international travel safer. International Air Transport Association CEO Alexandre de Juniac told CP24 that “[testing] all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence. And that will put millions of people back to work.”
While the US has begun making use of rapid testing, Health Minister Patty Hajdu dismissed the idea last month, describing the rapid tests as providing "a false sense of security."
The government appears to have changed their position on this matter after Health Canada approved the use of rapid tests earlier this month. Health Canada also recently approved a portable testing kit developed by a company based in Guelph, which can produce accurate test results in just 90 minutes.
The Canadian government has purchased at least 16.4 million rapid tests from multiple sources, which are expected to arrive before the end of the year.