Where will COVID testing be set up at Windsor border crossings?
WINDSOR, ONT. -- On-site COVID-19 testing is slated to begin first thing Thursday morning at the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge in Windsor.
“We found out about, I would say two-three weeks ago they were coming to set up,” says Chris Tremblay, general manager of Windsor Detroit Borderlink, operator of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Canadian Red Cross are setting up three trailers in the parking lot of the Duty Free store at the tunnel.
Tremblay says he has been trying to give them as much space as they need, without impeding the store, which only just reopened because of COVID restrictions on retail.
It’s a similar setup at the Ambassador Bridge.
Randy Spader, Manager of Operations says the testing trailers will be at the south end of the Duty Free parking lot to the east of the bridge.
Spader says he doesn’t expect there will be any impact to essential commuters or the commercial trucking industry because the testing will be done essentially across the street.
Non-essential travellers must have a negative COVID test and get tested when they arrive. Windsor will have on site testing to help, but they must still do the Day 1 test and the Day 10.
He says they expect the testing sites will be up and running by Thursday morning as well.
PHAC has confirmed the military will not be on the ground in Windsor as they are at other “high volume” border crossings in Canada.
“The routine, cross-border essential traveller, you won't see any difference. But if you are a non-essential traveller you will be directed to the health screening area,” according to Tremblay.
There, the Canadian Red Cross will take over.
“CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) provides the travellers with the test. The Red Cross is there to assist,” says Melanie Soler, the vice-president of emergency response operations for the Canadian Red Cross.
“The mandate is that you provide a Day 1 test and also a Day 10 test,” she said. “So we're there to provide guidance and support through the day one test.”
And Soler says they will walk the traveller through the necessary steps for taking the next test and submitting 10 days into their mandatory quarantine.
Once the Day 1 test is submitted to PHAC, Soler says the traveller is free to leave and begin their quarantine.
According to the Government of Canada, just five per cent of current traffic is considered non-essential.
If travellers do not have a negative COVID-19 test taken with 72 hours of arriving at the border, they will be subject to these new land border rules.
Safety Minister Bill Blair says 93 percent of travellers are essential.
“There are those truck drivers, nurses, technicians, people that have to cross that border each and every day. People who bring the produce and goods and services into this country, and get our products to market. And so they have been able to continue to do that work, but they are exempt,” according to Blair
CTV News reached out to CBSA for this story and the agency provided the following detailed statements for how on-site testing will rollout in WindsoR:
In order for a traveller to be exempt from pre-arrival test requirements, they must meet an exception under subsection 1.1(2) (if entering by land), or subsection 1.2(2) (if entering by air) of the Order in Council (OIC) 2021-0075 (Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations).
In order for a traveller to exempt from mandatory quarantine requirements, they must meet an exception under subsection 6(1) of OIC 2021-0075.
Cross-border workers entering Canada by a mode of transport other than an aircraft:
In accordance with section 2(p) of OIC 2021-0075, “a person who must enter Canada regularly to go to their normal place of employment or to return from their normal place of employment in the United States, if they do not directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the 14-day period that begins on the day on which the person enters Canada”, is considered a cross-border worker and may be exempt from pre-arrival testing, while section 6(e) exempts these travellers from quarantine requirements.
In order for a traveller to be exempt from these requirements as a cross-border worker, the traveller must cross the border regularly to go to their normal place of employment and demonstrate a regular pattern of travel, which is generally defined as daily or weekly. The nature of their work does not impact this assessment.
Essential workers entering Canada by a mode of transport other than an aircraft:
In accordance with section 2(c) of OIC 2021-0075, “a person or any member of a class of persons who, as determined by the Chief Public Health Officer, will provide an essential service, if the person complies with any conditions imposed on them by the Chief Public Health Officer to minimize the risk of introduction or spread of COVID-19”, is considered an essential service provider and may be exempt from pre-arrival testing, while section 6(e) exempts these travellers from quarantine requirements.
In order for a traveller to be exempt as an essential service provider, their travel must be part of the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) Group Exemption list (scroll down to “OIC 45” and click on “Group Exemption under 6(e) of the Order” for an expanded list) made pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act. It is important to note that being considered an “essential worker” or “essential employee” in the province or municipality in which the person is seeking to enter does not automatically mean the person is exempt as per the CPHO designation. In all cases the designation of an essential service provider is used, they must be entering for the purpose of that function, or clearly meet the class of persons as defined by the CPHO.
At the border:
Travellers should have documentation that will provide details on their reason for travel, length of stay, as well as any other information that may be relevant to substantiate how they meet one of the exceptions outlined above, such as the relevant category of the CPHO essential service provider exception as outlined in the OIC and relevant CPHO designation letter for those seeking an exemption as an essential service provider.
Travellers must have documentation that clearly outlines how they meet the relevant exemption within section 6(e) as an essential service provider. Providing a letter that simply states they are exempt but does not substantiate how they meet the relevant 6(e) CPHO designation is not enough for the traveller to be exempt from the requirement to quarantine.
BSOs review and consider each traveller's unique circumstances, the purpose of the trip, and the documents presented at the time of entry. All travellers are asked by the BSO whether they are feeling ill or unwell. BSOs not only query travellers on the state of their health, they are trained to observe visible signs of illness and will refer any traveller who they suspect of being ill, to a Public Health Agency of Canada staff member for further assessment, regardless of how the traveller responded to the health screening question.
There are many factors that come into play when the CBSA is determining which instructions are provided to the traveller with regards to their obligation to quarantine as prescribed in Order in Council 2021-0075. CBSA officers use all of the information available to them when a traveller is seeking entry into Canada, to determine which set of instructions (exempt or required to quarantine) apply to the traveller.
Note that the requirement to quarantine is explicitly stated within the Order in Council, and CBSA border services officers do not have the discretion to exempt travellers based on an assumed level of risk. Where questions arise with regards to a traveller’s quarantine plan, health status or documents, the traveller is referred to a PHAC staff member who will make the final determination. To note, the CBSA does not issue fines in the enforcement of the Quarantine Act requirements. The decision on whether to pursue any enforcement action related to the public health orders rests with PHAC.
All travellers, including those with a right of entry, must meet the new testing and quarantine requirements when coming to Canada. Please see the online checklists for more information:
Unless specifically exempted, travellers entering Canada must isolate themselves for 14 days if they have symptoms of or confirmed COVID-19 or quarantine themselves for 14 days if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
All travellers entering Canada are given a PHAC handout with instructions to either quarantine or isolate for 14 days. Symptomatic people are given a red pamphlet, and asymptomatic people are given a green pamphlet.
Individuals exempt from quarantine requirements are also provided the following handout on entry: For persons exempt from mandatory quarantine due to COVID-19.
It should be noted that providing false information including false test results to a Government of Canada official upon entry to Canada is a serious offence and may result in penalties and/or criminal charges. As well, violating any instructions provided when you enter Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
Travellers may experience longer delays at the ports of entry as the CBSA will not compromise the health and safety of Canadians for the sake of border wait times. We ask that travellers use ArriveCAN (mobile App or Web portal) to submit their contact and quarantine information in advance of arriving at the land border. This will also ensure the health and safety of travellers and our employees. Travellers can help facilitate their processing at the border by being prepared including using ArriveCAN and understanding their obligations.
Full details on the travel restrictions can be found online.
The restrictions, and exemptions, for entry into Canada and mandatory quarantine are found in detail, in the following Orders in Council (OIC) that the CBSA applies related to COVID-19:
Order in Council 2021-0076 (Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from the United States)). This Order is currently in effect until March 21, 2021, but can be prolonged for public health reasons.
Order in Council 2021-0077 (Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States)). This Order is in effect ending April 21, 2021, but can be prolonged for public health reasons.
Order in Council 2021-0075 (Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations)). This Order is in effect ending April 21, 2021 and can be prolonged as necessary for public health reasons.