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Manitoba traveller questions $8,500 fines after PCR test results rejected at border

Manitoba traveller questions $8,500 fines after PCR test results rejected at border
Written by Publishing Team

A fully vaccinated Manitoba woman and her daughter face hefty fines after a trip to the Caribbean last month.

Canada requires travelers to show evidence of a recent negative molecular test for people to re-enter the country from abroad.

But in this case, the women said their results were not accepted at the border because of where the tests were taken.

At no time did she say, ‘No, that’s not acceptable,’ said Susan McKillop of Stonewall, Mann. She and her daughter were fined $8,500 while trying to get back to Canada. “So, we were pretty surprised by the limits.”

Five days before the non-essential travel warning for Canada began, McKillop, who had recently recovered from a head-on collision, drove with her daughter to Fargo, ND and boarded a flight to Aruba.

They spent about a week enjoying the scenery and warming up before flying back to Canada via the US.

The fully vaccinated women underwent PCR tests in Aruba on December 17 before the flight back to Fargo on December 18.

McKillop said Dec. 19 that within 72 hours of getting their tests, which were negative, they drove to the Canadian border in Emerson, Man. They were met with the unpleasant surprise – fines of $8,500 each under the federal quarantine law.

“Over the course of two hours, it took her coming back and saying, ‘Well, because you didn’t have a PCR test in the States,'” McCillop said.

She said they were not given the option to go back and get a test in the US, but were sent home with tests to take themselves that also came back negative.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said in a statement that it does not issue fines.

The CBSA said: “When questions arise regarding a traveler’s quarantine plan, health status, or molecular testing documents, CBSA border services officials refer the traveler to a primary health care center (PHAC) quarantine officer who will take action. decision on next steps.

In a statement from Public Health Canada, it said that while it cannot comment on specific cases, the fine for violating Section 58 of the Quarantine Act is $5,000, in addition to applicable provincial fees.

Prior to December 21, when entering Canada via the United States by land, a molecular test had to be completed prior to entry into the United States from December 21, and the requirement is simply that a molecular test must be performed prior to entry outside Canada,” the statement reads.

Mary Jane Hiebert, president of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies, said the fine was exorbitant but she believes the case stems from the time the women spent in the United States.

“If they had flown from Aruba through the US to Canada without coming out of that airport in the US, they are in transit and then that test from Aruba should have passed,” Hebert said.

Hibbert said many people are delaying trips, but travelers who choose to go abroad may face challenges amid a range of omicron cases.

She said it’s important to have insurance in case you catch COVID during your trip and have to stay longer than planned.

“There is an insurance policy that you can buy when you are at the destination and you get COVID and you have to isolate those expenses,” Hebert said.

It’s important to ask questions about insurance coverage before your trip, said Susan Postma, regional director of CAA Manitoba.

“Where there are active warnings, there are different standards of coverage that an insurance policy would support,” Postma said. “It’s very unique to the traveler.”

McKillop and her daughter believed their results in Aruba would be accepted and did not see anywhere in the bases a special test from the United States required to return to Canada.

At the time, Canada was allowing residents who had traveled to the United States for less than 72 hours to return without a negative PCR test.

“We haven’t found anything that says you can’t enter from another country without another PCR test,” McKillop said.

Despite the fines, McKillop does not regret going.

She said they have appointed a lawyer and are planning to challenge their tickets.

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