Hotel quarantine waived for agricultural temporary foreign workers
The Canadian federal government has expanded their COVID-19 protocols for travellers, but agricultural temporary foreign workers will be temporarily exempt from government-approved hotel quarantine requirements.
Coming into effect Feb. 22, 2021, these new requirements will see a total of three COVID-19 tests for travellers.
In addition to taking a COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to boarding, temporary foreign workers will be tested upon arrival in Canada and given a COVID-19 testing kit to use toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period. However, unlike non-essential travellers, temporary foreign workers in agriculture will not be required to stay in a government-approved hotel while waiting for the test results at this time.
“In the case of temporary foreign workers in agriculture, our government is going to defer the requirement that temporary foreign workers would have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel,” says federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau in a media announcement Feb. 12.
“In the interim, temporary foreign workers entering the country will proceed to their usual place of quarantine provided by their employer under existing quarantine rules.”
The deferred requirement is expected to last until mid-March, giving both federal and provincial governments time to develop a tailored solution for accommodating workers.
Bibeau emphasizes that neither the workers nor the employers will be charged for the additional safety measures. “We care deeply about their safety and well-being, particularly during this challenging time,” says Bibeau.
Discussions with provincial and agricultural organizations are expected to take place in the meantime, with regards to necessary health measures and logistics.
Many of Canada’s temporary foreign workers arrive from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean. “Last year, we were able to welcome around 85 per cent of our migrant workforce compared to the year before,” says Bibeau.
Expanded COVID-19 safety requirements for travellers
On Feb 12, Canada announced expanded COVID-19 safety requirements for all travellers entering Canada. As of Feb. 22, all travellers arriving by air will not only be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival before exiting the airport, but also towards the end of the 14-day quarantine period.
“With limited exceptions, air travellers, will also be required to reserve, prior to departure to Canada, a 3-night stay in a government-authorized hotel. Travellers will be able to book their government-authorized stay starting February 18, 2021,” according to a release by the Public Health Agency of Canada. This hotel stays applies to non-essential travellers.
As of Feb. 15, 2021, travellers entering Canada by land will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival. Starting Feb. 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada by land will also be required to take a second COVID-19 molecular test on arrival followed by a third test toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period.
Beginning Feb. 22, 2021, “all travellers, whether arriving by land or air will be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border or boarding a flight.”
“We’re moving forward with these critical measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the introduction of new variants of the virus into Canada. At the same time, we recognize the importance of the continued movement of goods and the ongoing delivery of essential services in Canada. Our government’s response to this pandemic includes necessary measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians while keeping our economy going,” says Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport.
Although travellers who arrive without a valid COVID-19 molecular test will be allowed into the country, they may be fined up to $3,000 per day or face criminal charges. Failing to provide accurate information could also lead to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.