First travellers to take part in COVID border screening have landed in Calgary

·2 min read

The first passengers to take part in a new COVID-19 screening program at the Calgary airport have landed.

The pilot program, a partnership between Alberta and the federal government, allows those landing in Calgary to take a COVID test inside the airport and can reduce their quarantine from two weeks to two days.

If the test comes back negative, travellers will be allowed to leave their place of quarantine as long as they remain in Alberta for the first 14 days and commit to getting a second test on Day 6 or 7 after arrival, at a community pharmacy participating in the pilot program, the province said.

Only international travellers arriving at the Calgary airport, or the Coutts land crossing, will be able to access the service.

It will be available for foreign essential workers — truckers, health-care employees and others who are exempt from the current federal travel ban — and any Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are currently allowed entry into Canada and have no COVID-19 symptoms.

First travellers

Rose Addo was the first person in the country to go through the process and says it was fast and the reduced quarantine is welcome, but she still says it's not a great time to travel if you don't have to.

Jordan Halas was right behind her in the line and said the process was smooth, even though there were clearly some kinks to work out.

"I was going to have to stay at a friend's house for 14 days and not go back to my kids, so this allows me to get home five days quicker than if I had flown home last Wednesday," he said.

While Halas was down in the United States for the World Series, Jonathan Heinz was there volunteering his time for hurricane relief. He said half of his group couldn't travel due to the 14-day quarantine restrictions.

"So it might open up things for volunteer groups, for travel. I hope it's a lot better for airlines going forward. So I'm glad this is up and running," he said.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said if the traveller pilot project goes well, it will be expanded to the airport in Edmonton early in the new year.