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Canada's COVID-19 boarding rules for airlines will be tighter than expected

January 7, 2021. Despite the concerns expressed across the UK regarding the ongoing and seemingly ever-increasing restrictions on freedom and liberty, similar rules are being imposed in other countries. One of the big worries is the prospect of being compelled to prove, by law, a negative test result (and the possibility of Covid-Free passports or ID documentation being required) before being allowed to travel. Ashley Burke of Canada's CBC news looks at the situation across the North Atlantic

(above image - Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Despite reassuring words from the minister of transport last week, airlines have been told new regulations that come into effect on Thursday are not expected to give them the power to exercise their own discretion and allow travellers to board planes to Canada if they were unable to get a negative COVID-19 test abroad.

The airline industry received briefings from government officials on Tuesday about the draft regulations, according to airline industry sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the regulations are not finalized yet. The sources said that in the days before the rules come into effect there is still a lack of clarity and details. But the airlines' understanding is that the proposed rules would order airlines to turn away anyone who doesn't have a negative COVID-19 test taken within either 72 or 96 hours of the flight, depending on the location.

The only exception, the sources said, is if travellers are in locations on a government list where the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test — the standard nose swab test for detecting active COVID-19 infections — is not widely available to travellers. But so far, Canada's consular services around the world are still determining the availability of the testing in different regions, said the sources. As of Tuesday, only a few locations — Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland, and Haiti — are expected to be exempt from the rules and do not require proof of a negative test, sources said the airlines were told.