The Canadian government has announced it will require all arriving air passengers to present a negative COVID-19 test before they will be allowed to enter the country. Canada-bound travelers must provide a negative result from a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight.

The regulation is set to go into effect Jan 7, according to a statement from Marc Garneau, Canada’s transport minister. Canadian officials emphasized that the new testing requirement is in addition to – and not a substitute for – the current 14-day quarantine mandated for those who enter the country.

Failure to obey the quarantine mandate could result in stiff penalties – up to six months in prison or up to $750,000 in fines. The 14-day quarantine order for all arrivals into Canada has been in effect since March.

News of an outbreak of a new COVID-19 variant in the United Kingdom prompted worldwide action to contain the more virulent strain, which is thought to be up to 70 percent more infectious. In the US, the CDC responded by mandated pre-travel testing on arrival for all UK passengers.

Canada is among several nations that have banned all flights from the UK. However confirmed cases of the strain have reportedly already been identified in four Canadian provinces.

canada.ca