International travellers arriving in Alberta via the Calgary International Airport now have the option of taking a free expedited COVID-19 test to avoid quarantining for a full two weeks upon entering the country.
The expedited test is part of a joint provincial-federal pilot project, the first of its kind in Canada, which began on Nov. 2.
It is voluntary for travellers to take, and is also available for travellers entering Alberta by land at the Coutts border crossing in southern Alberta.
A mandatory, 14-day quarantine period for returning international travellers will remain, but the new tests will allow for that to be shortened to about two days if travellers test negative for COVID-19 and commit to another test in six or seven days after arrival. They will not be allowed to travel outside Alberta for 14 days.
Participants are to be closely monitored through daily symptom checks and will be required to follow health measures, such as wearing masks in public and avoiding visits to high-risk groups.
When announcing the program in an Oct. 22 news conference, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said it was hoped the move would help the province’s struggling service and tourism industry.
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“Only about three per cent of active cases in Alberta have been acquired through travel,” Kenney said.
“Recognizing this, and the fact that COVID is not going away any time soon, we have been looking at new ways to support the travel industry and bring back safe travel.”
The testing option should only be used by those who need to travel, he said.
Kenney said if the project goes well, it will be expanded to the airport in Edmonton.
– With files from The Canadian Press
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