MIAMI – The Canadian province of Alberta, home to Calgary International Airport (YYC) among others, has inaugurated a program allowing for a shorter quarantine process.

The program, set to begin on November 2 and run 26 weeks, will still keep a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, a period that travelers can stop should they receive a negative test result which usually takes between 24 and 48 hours to arrive. The program is conditional upon travelers agreeing to a second test on the sixth or seventh day after arrival at a community pharmacy.

“This new pilot program will allows those who need to travel for work to have a safe path to a shorter quarantine period” said Jason Kenney, the Alberta Premier.

Air Transat Airbus A310 at SJO Photo: © Max Taubman – @maximumaviation

Safety First

The federal Minister of Public Safety, Bill Blair, has further stated that “My understanding is that there would be a quarantine requirement in those six days period so that they could not go and super spread.”

“Safety is our top priority. All participating travelers will be closely monitored to ensure that the Pilot is not resulting in any increased risk of exposure for Albertans” said Tyler Shandro, the Minister of Health for Alberta.

Those who fail to comply will be subject to fines with the program will be available to foreign essential workers, returning Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or foreign nationals currently permitted entry into Canada with no symptoms.

Westjet Boeing 787-9 Photo: Liam Funnel

Future of Air Travel

Considering an International Air Transport Association (IATA) survey demonstrating that 83% of travelers refuse to fly because of a 14-day isolation period, the move to ease the burden of such a period is welcomed by Canadian airlines.

WestJet (WS) CEO Ed Sims said the “announcement is welcomed by WestJet and I applaud and thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Jason Kenney for taking this important step in providing peace of mind to anxious travellers.”

Air Canada (AC) in welcoming the news touted its own screening initiative, with Dr. Jim Chung, the AC Chief Medical Officer said “the data [from the initiative] has provided the federal government and the government of Alberta with the confidence to move forward with this new testing initiative”.

With the possibility of the program expanding to Edmonton International Airport (YEG) early next year, the new testing program could be pioneering in revitalizing passenger traffic amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Featured image: Air Canada landing. Photo: Liam Funnell