Canadians who cross border for vaccine must quarantine on return, Ottawa says

Politics·New

Canadians looking to drive across the border to the United States for the sole purpose of getting a COVID-19 vaccine are not exempt from mandatory quarantine upon their return.

Canadians line up at the Canada-U.S. border crossing at Carway, Alta., on Tuesday to get free shots of a COVID-19 vaccine from the Blackfeet Tribe across the border in Montana. Canadians were told they were exempted from having to quarantine for 14 days.(Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Canadians looking to drive across the border to the United States for the sole purpose of getting a COVID-19 vaccine are not exempt from mandatory quarantine upon their return.

In a statement Wednesday, the Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC News that Canada's quarantine exemptions currently in place are not intended for those travelling abroad to get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease.

"Testing and quarantine exemptions for travellers returning to Canada after receiving essential medical services in a foreign country was not intended to be used for those seeking to receive a COVID-19 vaccination," a PHAC spokesperson said in an email.

"This provision is in place to allow Canadians who are seeking life-saving medical treatment outside of Canada."

The statement attempts to clarify reports earlier this week that the vaccine may be considered an essential medical service and Canadians crossing the border could be exempt from the 14-day quarantine when they return.

Earlier this week, Albertans who attended a Montana vaccination clinic were told they were exempted from having to quarantine for 14 days.

The new statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada attempts to clarify reports from earlier this week that the vaccine may be considered an essential medical service and Canadians crossing the border could be exempt from the 14-day quarantine when they return. In fact, Canadians who travel abroad for a vaccine must quarantine on return.(Paul Sancya/The Associated Press)

The Canada-U.S. border border has been closed in light of the pandemic to non-essential travel for purposes such as tourism and recreation since March 2020. Non-essential travellers entering Canada through the land border need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before arrival, in addition to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for returning non-essential travellers.

But since February, patients undergoing essential medical treatment can skip those requirements only if they have a written statement from a licensed health care practitioner in Canada — and from a practitioner in the country where they are receiving the treatment.

The health agency said in the statement that "COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in Canada." Canada has administered 19.4 million doses with 47.9 per cent of the total population having received at least one dose, according to CBC's vaccine tracking data.

U.S. says vaccine travel not essential

Canada's top public health agency also points out the decision on whether entry into the U.S. is allowed would fall to American border authorities.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Canadians attempting to drive across the American border solely for a COVID-19 vaccination, even with a doctor's referral, would be denied entry.

"Travel for the sole purpose of obtaining a vaccination is not permissible under current travel restrictions," an agency spokesman said.

"If a person is entering the U.S. for legitimate travel reasons, as allowed under current restriction guidelines, and receives a vaccine incidental to their trip, it is not part of the overall admissibility determination."

Maximum penalties for failing to comply with mandatory quarantine rules on travellers returning to Canada include a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months.

If someone jeopardizes another's life "while wilfully or recklessly contravening the act" the penalties are even greater: $1 million or three years in prison, or both.

with files from Canadian Press

*****
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

Check Also

Flood-stranded sturgeon pushed, pulled and carried back to the Fraser River

British Columbia Professional angling guides Tyler Buck and Jay Gibson volunteered to move the giant …

error: Content is protected !!