A new report from an advisory panel is calling on the federal government to end its policy of three-day quarantines at designated COVID-19 facilities for air travellers and instead replace it with self-quarantine plans.
The fourth report was released by the federal government's COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, which oversees the COVID-19 screening measures at land and air borders.
The report calls the three-day quarantine policy flawed for a number of reasons, including Canadians opting to pay a fine instead of going to the designated facilities and the inconsistency in length of stay with the incubation period of COVID-19.
In February, the federal government issued measures at airports for all air travellers returning from non-essential trips, requiring them to quarantine for three days while they wait for PCR testing results. Canadians travelling by land were required to take a test, but could quarantine at home.
The report identifies five groups of people: non-exempt unvaccinated people, partially vaccinated people, fully vaccinated people, non-exempt with proof of previous infection, and exempt workers, and outlines separate recommendations for quarantined and testing for each group.
They recommended that non-exempt unvaccinated travellers take a test prior to departure, a PCR test on arrival at a testing or quarantine location, and that those who test negative on day seven of quarantine be allowed to leave, while those who test positive continue the full 14 days.
Partially vaccinated non-exempt travellers would have to get pre departure and arrival testing as well, but those who test negative on arrival would be allowed to leave quarantine immediately.
Previously infected travellers which where infected more than 14 days but less than 180 days from departure would have to provide acceptable proof of infection, take testing upon arrival, and if given a negative result, would be allowed to leave quarantine immediately. Positive results would lead to a 14 day self-isolation period.
Exempt travellers need only to provide on a voluntary basis lab-based PCR testing on arrival, completed away from the border for more thorough surveillance of test results.
The report called on the federal government to develop a proof-of-vaccine certificate "as soon as possible," and suggested the creation of a system so that the federal government could approve a traveller's quarantine plans.
They also called into question the tightening of travel measures to countries identified as having dangerous variants, stating: "It is important to note that by the time a variant is identified as being 'of concern,' it is highly likely to be present in many countries around the world."
The report responded to calls for testing domestic travellers, stating that "a significant increase in testing capacity at airports, which could result in crowded conditions during peak travel times and thus lead to increased risk of transmission. Traveller test registration, swabbing, wait times, recording and referral times would result in a wait of up to 45 minutes."