International travellers face enhanced COVID-19 screening at Alberta airports
Alberta to implement temperature screening at Edmonton and Calgary airports
The Alberta government has set up checkpoints at the province's two international airports to screen incoming passengers from outside Canada for symptoms of COVID-19.
Premier Jason Kenney announced Wednesday that travellers arriving from destinations outside Canada will undergo temperature scans and provide provincial officials with details of their 14-day mandatory quarantine plan. That includes where they will stay and how they will get there.
Travellers without such plans or private transport to their destinations will be isolated on site, Kenney said.
A second phase includes adding a provincial screening checkpoint to the Canada-U.S. border crossing at Coutts within a few weeks.
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Alberta Health Services will call air and land travellers within three days to assess how the plan is going.
The Calgary and Edmonton checkpoints were operating as of Wednesday but temperature scanning won't start until next week.
Although travel has dropped during the pandemic, Kenney said about 400 international travellers arrive in Alberta each week, mainly through Calgary.
The province is also requiring additional cleaning in airport lounges and adding hand sanitizer stations next to the touch screen check-in kiosks.
Alberta has allocated $800,000 to fund the new measures at airports in Calgary and Edmonton until the end of August.
The premier has been critical of Ottawa for what he characterized as a slow response to implementing screening procedures at international airports when the first Canadian cases linked to travel from outside the country began to emerge in March.
On March 15, Kenney said on Twitter he had visited the arrivals area at Edmonton International Airport to monitor COVID-19 screening procedures.
"I am very concerned about reports from travellers on inadequate federal screening protocols for international travellers," Kenney said in his tweet. "I have directed provincial officials to deploy provincial resources to AB airports."
I visited <a href="https://twitter.com/FlyEIA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FlyEIA</a> Intl Arrivals to monitor <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> screening measures. <br><br>I am very concerned about reports from travellers on inadequate federal screening protocols for international travellers. <br><br>I have directed provincial officials to deploy provincial resources to AB airports <a href="https://t.co/EMbkbeKr94">pic.twitter.com/EMbkbeKr94</a>—@jkenney
In April, when Kenney first announced the province's relaunch strategy, he promised stepped-up screening of international arrivals to Alberta.
Given Kenney's concerns about the issue, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she didn't know Alberta hadn't yet taken action.
"I thought we were already well into this and I was surprised to hear that we were just moving forward now," she said.
Notley noted that British Columbia introduced enhanced airport screening just before Easter.
Travellers entering B.C. at land crossings or Vancouver International Airport have to present a detailed quarantine plan before they can clear customs.