Science-based approach to easing Quarantine Act restrictions urged by Air Canada

i By July 16, 2020 No Comments

Air Canada’s chief medical officer has issued a letter urging the Canadian government to use a science-based approach to ease the Quarantine Act restrictions, which have been essentially unchanged since they were put in place in March.

Air Canada is not proposing relaxing the U.S. border restrictions at this time. Instead, it is asking that current restrictions for countries with low COVID-19 risk from a public health perspective be replaced with more proportionate, evidence-based measures and experiences from other countries. Measures, Air Canada says, that would strike a better balance for travellers and for the Canadian economy without adversely impacting public health.

Air Canada notes that other G20 countries have implemented practical, science-based approaches to travel by minimizing the risk of COVID-19 exposure through a range of measures endorsed by medical professionals worldwide. These measures include:

  • Determination of safe corridors or travel between approved jurisdictions with fewer cases on the basis of low risk from a public health perspective (an approach adopted by the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal and others).
  • The requirement for a pre-departure, medically-certified negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country as in many of the Caribbean Islands.
  • Waiver of quarantine requirements following a negative test on arrival (Iceland, Austria, Luxembourg).
  • Mandatory testing on arrival (South Korea, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Macao).

Air Canada has been at the forefront of the airline industry in responding to COVID-19. Its initiatives include being among the first carriers global to require passengers to wear face coverings onboard; being the first airline in the Americas to take customers’ temperatures prior to boarding; and developing and implementing a robust biosafety program, Air Canada CleanCare+.

The carrier has also undertaken several medical collaborations to further advance biosafety across its operations. These include partnering with Cleveland Clinic Canada for medical advisory services; engaging Spartan Bioscience Inc., an Ottawa-based biotechnology leader in portable DNA testing technology, to explore portable COVID-19 testing technology; and since 2019, collaborating with Toronto-based BlueDot for real-time infectious disease global monitoring.