Canadian Manufacturing

Border agency adds screening questions after complaints about airport disarray

New arrivals will also be required to acknowledge that they're being asked to self-isolate for two weeks to keep COVID-19 from spreading

March 16, 2020  The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Canada Border Services Agency announced new screening questions for travellers arriving March 16 following a weekend of disarray at points of entry into the country, especially airports.

While the federal government wants people returning to Canada from abroad to stay in isolation for 14 days, travellers reported customs officials weren’t routinely providing the direction to new arrivals, prompting fear, anger and frustration.

Automated questionnaires administered through touchscreens at entry points will now ask anyone and everyone who is arriving from overseas whether they have coughs, difficulty breathing or are feeling feverish, the CBSA said on Twitter.

New arrivals will also be required to acknowledge that they’re being asked to self-isolate for two weeks to keep COVID-19 from spreading.

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Provinces and municipalities are stepping up their own efforts at local airports.

Montreal health officials say civil security and public-health workers will be at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport to remind travellers they must self-isolate upon returning to Canada.

Dr. Mylene Drouin, Montreal’s director of public health, said the measures are needed because travellers arriving in the province did not appear to be taking Quebec’s order requiring two weeks of isolation seriously.

The recently trained additional staff are to be on the ground March 16.

Travellers will pass by the employees before they leave the airport and be given information sheets and asked to note their symptoms and take their temperatures twice a day during the isolation period, Drouin said.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said travellers must be made aware that upon arriving in Canada, they cannot go to work, school or anywhere else for two weeks.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also said Sunday that he was directing provincial officials to check up on airports in the province after he visited Edmonton International Airport to investigate reports of inadequate screening of international travellers.

The union representing Canada’s border officers was also set to meet with the CBSA on Monday after raising concerns last week about a lack of information and guidance to its members, one of whom has tested positive for COVID-19.

There were 324 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada as of March 16 and another 17 probable cases, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. One person has died of the respiratory illness.

— With files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal