The Ontario government is asking the federal government of Canada to address the large number of people crossing by land into Canada by implementing a mandatory three-day quarantine in hotels upon arrival, CP24 reports.
The Ford government addressed in a letter to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair and Minister of Health Patty Hadju that reports thousands of people are using a "land loophole" to get around the quarantine associated with flying by landing at a US airport and driving into the country.
Currently, if someone arriving in Canada from internationally they are required to take a COVID-19 test and quarantine for three days in a federally designated hotel while they wait for the results. If negative, they can continue their 14- day quarantine elsewhere.
Travelers that come into Canada by land must have a COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of arrival, and have proof of plans to quarantine. Another test is given eight days later.
"With several land border crossings between the United States and the Province of Ontario, this loophole represents a significant threat to the health and well-being of Ontarians due to the potential for further entry of COVID-19 variants into the province," wrote Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.
"In the past two weeks, over 150,000 people – not including essential commercial truckers – have crossed Canada’s land borders," the letter reads. "This includes dozens of individuals who crossed between April 24, and April 26, 2021, after travelling from countries where direct flights to Canada are currently banned. This is not just an Ontario problem – it is a Canada-wide problem."
Jones and Elliot are calling for a mandatory three-day quarantine for travelers passing through popular land border crossings including Niagara, Windsor, Sarnia, and Brockville.
"It is important that all travelers in these regions are met with the same quarantine requirement, to ensure that all points of entry are protected," the letter reads.
Jones, who spoke with CP24 Friday, said that this action would be important in preventing the spread of variants in the country.
"What we are finding is people are using workarounds to get into Ontario and we only have to remember what happened with one variant of concern that devastated a long-term care home in Barrie in January to limit individuals who are coming into Ontario," said Jones, referring to the Roberta Place long-term care facility that saw 50 residents and one caregiver pass away due to the UK B. 1.1.7 variant.
The variant currently crushing India's healthcare system, B. 1.617, is up to 36 reported cases in Ontario province, with six of those cases coming from international travel and the remaining 30 detected at airport and border crossing screening programs.
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