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New COVID-19 testing program for international travellers arriving in Alberta

Last Updated Oct 23, 2020 at 6:37 am MDT

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The Alberta government is rolling out a pilot program for international travellers coming into the province.

It is being done in partnership with the federal government in the hopes it can also boost the tourism industry which has struggled mightily through the pandemic.

Starting on November 2, international passengers coming into Alberta will be offered a voluntary test upon arrival and before they enter isolation.

If the test comes back negative, the travellers can end their isolation if they also commit to a test six or seven days later, to account for the virus’ incubation period. If that is also negative, it will result in an overall shorter quarantine period.

But if the traveller starts showing symptoms or that second test comes back positive, they need to immediately go back into isolation.

“Only about three per cent of the active cases in Alberta have been acquired through travel,” said Premier Jason Kenney, who spoke from self-isolation following Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard’s positive COVID-19 test on Wednesday. “We must find ways to bring back safe travel if we’re ever going to get the economy firing again on all cylinders.”

“Being able to safely reduce returning travellers’ quarantine time by a matter of weeks means that Alberta’s business leaders can continue operating their businesses during these unprecedented times,” said Minister for Jobs, Economy and Innovation, Doug Schweitzer.

The UCP government made the announcement at the Calgary International Airport which is one of two locations that will offer the program. The other location is the Coutts Border Crossing.

“This new pilot program will allow those who need to travel for work to have a safe path to a shorter quarantine period. Since the start of this pandemic, Alberta’s government has highlighted the importance to protect lives and livelihoods,” said Kenney.

Plans are underway to introduce the project at the Edmonton International Airport in the future.

“We really hope that this pilot will help in reducing, and one day eliminating, the 14-day self-isolation requirements that have so crippled our nation,” added Calgary Airport Authority President and CEO Bob Sartor.

He also announced a new testing program for Albertans travelling on essential business.

This privately administered test will be available for a fee of $150 and travellers will receive results 72 hours in advance of their arrival time at their destination, and will be available starting on Monday.