The Alberta COVID-19 Border Testing Pilot Program is currently suspended and no longer accepting new participants. New travel requirements announced by the Government of Canada are now in effect.

Learn more about Canada’s additional restrictions on international travel.

Overview

Eligible international travellers returning to Alberta at select airport and border crossings can participate in the Alberta COVID-19 Border Testing Pilot Program to reduce the length of time they’re required to quarantine upon arrival.

  • Eligible participants will be allowed to leave quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 on their second test on day 7 or 8 (counting arrival day as day 1) and commit to following specific public health and testing measures.
  • All other returning international travellers must legally quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

There is no cost to participate in the border pilot program. The pilot will run until 52,000 participants are enrolled.

Eligible locations

At this time, the pilot program is only available to international travellers arriving directly to the following locations.

The pilot program may be expanded to other locations in the future.

  • Coutts land border crossing (subject to road conditions)
    • Hours of operation: 9 am to 9 pm.
    • Make sure to arrive at the border with enough time to clear customs and get to the testing station before 9 pm.
  • Calgary International Airport
    • Hours of operation: 1 hour before the arrival of the first international commercial flight to 2 hours after the arrival of the last international commercial flight.
    • If there are significant delays to flights, testing may not be open and those travellers will not be able to participate in the pilot program.
    • The pilot program is open to passengers on commercial, charter and private flights.

Eligible travellers

Foreign nationals continue to be restricted from entering Canada for optional or discretionary purposes, unless they are a family member or have an exemption.

  • Eligible candidates
    • Returning Canadian citizens or permanent residents
    • Foreign nationals currently permitted entry into Canada (for example, immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents)
    • Travellers exempt from 14-day quarantine, including essential service workers
  • Ineligible candidates
    • Travellers from the United Kingdom and South Africa are not eligible to participate.
    • Travellers arriving on domestic flights into Calgary International Airport (for example, if you fly from Mexico to Toronto and then to Calgary, you are not eligible to participate)
      • Returning international travellers who have flown to another airport in Canada but did not disembark and did not clear customs prior to arriving at the Calgary International Airport can participate in the program.
    • Non-exempt travellers proceeding to other provinces (participants must stay in Alberta for 14 days after entering Canada, unless they are departing the country directly from Alberta prior to the end of 14 days)
    • Travellers who:
      • have symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of entry to Canada
      • have been in or transited through the United Kingdom, South Africa or Brazil in the last 14 days
      • have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the last 14 days
        • Healthcare workers who were in close contact with someone with symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19 are eligible to participate in the program as long as they wore proper personal protective equipment that was never breached.
      • do not have an acceptable quarantine plan and/or need to quarantine at a federal quarantine site (does not apply to exempt travellers)

How to participate

  • Step 1. Enrol at the border
    • If you are interested in the pilot, begin completing the online registration form prior to arrival at customs.
    • Proceed to the Canadian Border Service Agency to clear customs and determine eligibility.
    • Once you’re confirmed to be eligible and have received a purple instruction sheet, proceed to the enrollment booth with your completed online form to verify your information.
      • Eligible exempt travellers who wish to participate will be given an orange instruction sheet.
    • Take a COVID-19 test on-site. All tests are throat swabs.
      • Once your first COVID-19 test is complete, you will receive a pink requisition slip with your confirmation number. This document must be presented to a participating pharmacy at the time of your second COVID-19 test.
      • Testing is only available to individuals 4 years old and older. Children under the age of 4 can participate in the pilot program if they follow all other preventative measures. Children under 4 years of age must still register and have their daily symptoms check-in performed for them.
         
  • Step 2. Quarantine and wait for your second test result
    • Go to your place of quarantine by land travel or through a connecting flight immediately after getting your first COVID-19 test.
    • While in quarantine, you must complete your daily-symptom check-in.
      • You can only leave quarantine for emergency and urgent care needs
      • Participating travellers must report any change to their place of quarantine by contacting E-Health at the number provided in their check-in information package.
  • Step 3: Take a second test on day 7 or 8
    • Take a second COVID-19 test no earlier than day 7 or 8 after entering Canada.
    • Remain in quarantine until you get a text message or email from Alberta Health Services with your second test result from day 7 or 8. If you choose to receive your test result by email, the message will be encrypted for your privacy. Learn more about viewing encrypted test results.
      • If the test comes back positive – continue to quarantine, follow all mandatory restrictions, and cooperate with contact tracers to identify close contacts.
      • If the test comes back negative – leave quarantine and follow all required preventative measures, including daily check-ins. You are not allowed to return to childcare, out of school care, schools, post-secondary institutions, and workplaces outside of your home until after the full 14-day quarantine period.
      • If the test comes back indeterminate – take a re-test or remain in quarantine for the full 14 days. Re-tests can be scheduled by completing the online form. Any participant who tests positive after the re-test must go into isolation.
  • Step 4. Follow preventative measures after leaving quarantine

    After leaving quarantine, you must follow public health measures until 14 days have passed since your entry to Canada.

    • Stay in Alberta.
    • Watch for symptoms and complete the daily check-ins. If symptoms develop:
    • Follow all public health measures currently in effect across Alberta, including the prohibition on visiting or staying in other people’s homes.
    • Keep a list of any close contacts. Do not make contact with vulnerable people, including anyone:
      • over the age of 65
      • with underlying medical conditions
      • with compromised health systems
    • Practice physical distancing at all times.
    • Wear a mask in public and private:
      • indoor settings outside of the home
      • outdoor settings when physical distancing is not possible

    In addition to following these preventative measures, pilot participants must download and use Alberta’s mobile contact tracing app ABTraceTogether when out in public.
     

  • Step 5: End quarantine and provide feedback
    • You will be sent surveys on days 3 and 13. You will be required to complete these surveys as part of the daily check-in.
    • After 14 days, your quarantine period is over. You may freely leave Alberta and are no longer required to submit daily reports.

Conditions and restrictions

All participants must:

  • submit daily symptom reports (online or by phone)
  • keep a list of any close contacts for the duration of the pilot program
    • if a participant tests positive, the list must be provided to public health officials
  • book a second test no earlier than day 7 or 8 at a participating Shoppers Drug Mart
  • not return to childcare, out of school care, schools, post-secondary institutions, and workplaces outside of your home for 14 days
  • follow preventative measures throughout the 14-day period
  • avoid prohibited settings during the 14-day period
  • avoid contact with anyone who is considered vulnerable
  • download Alberta’s mobile contact tracing app ABTraceTogether and ensure it is operating on your phone when out in public.

Flights with confirmed cases

Recent passengers on domestic and international airlines should monitor the Government of Canada’s list of flights that have confirmed COVID-19 cases and follow instructions if affected.

  • Check the federal list of affected flights.
  • Passengers enrolled in the border pilot who are identified as being in affected seats must monitor their symptoms for 14 days and continue to submit their daily symptom check-ins.
  • If symptoms develop:
    • isolate for at least 10 additional days from the beginning of symptoms or until  feeling well, whichever takes longer
    • take the online assessment to get tested

Restrictions for specific settings

Participants are prohibited from certain settings during the course of the pilot.

  • School and child care

    Attendees, students and staff cannot go back to these settings for 14 days:

    • Child care programs (for example daycare, out of school care)
    • K to 12 schools
    • Post-secondary institutions

     

  • Health care settings

    Pilot participants cannot work at or visit any setting where health care services are provided and there are vulnerable people at risk for severe disease for 14 days. This includes:

    • all outpatient clinics
    • acute care
    • continuing care
    • long term care
    • seniors lodges
  • Workplaces

    Individuals cannot return to any workplaces outside of their home until after 14 days.

  • Gatherings

    Mandatory restrictions are in effect for Alberta. Indoor social gatherings are currently prohibited, in addition to a number of business and service restrictions.

    Participants cannot attend places of worship if there are more than 10 people present.

    For more information, see enhanced public health measures.

  • Group living

    Pilot participants cannot attend or live in group living settings such as homeless shelters, work camps, group homes, student dormitories for 14 days.

Withdrawing and enforcement

Participants can withdraw at any time but must remain in quarantine for the full 14 days even if they have tested negative.

  • If COVID-19 symptoms develop, they must follow Alberta’s public health regulations and guidelines.
  • If one traveler in a group withdraws from the Border Pilot Project their entire traveling party, if applicable, is also withdrawn and must quarantine.

Any participant who refuses to follow the Border Pilot Project rules will:

  • be removed from the pilot project and must remain in quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day period
  • cause their entire travelling party, if any, to be removed from the pilot project and all must quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day period

Examples of refusal to follow the rules include refusing to complete daily symptom check-ins, leaving quarantine or not getting a day 7 or 8 test. If a participant withdraws and refuses to return to quarantine, the police may be notified.

Exempt travellers

Travelers who are exempt from 14-day quarantine, as determined by CBSA, can participate in the program if they wish.

  • Exempt travellers will be offered testing upon arrival and at day 7 or 8, on a voluntary basis.
  • Exempt travellers who cross the border frequently (for example, daily or weekly) will be offered testing every 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Follow-up tests can be performed at Coutts, the Calgary International Airport, or at a community pharmacy.
  • Exempt travellers do not need to report daily symptoms or any of the program’s preventative measures, but must follow the restrictions and conditions set out in their original exemption as well as current provincial measures in effect.

Current program numbers

Enrollment numbers and positivity rate for the Border Pilot Program will be posted every Friday.

Preliminary update (as of February 25, 2021)*

  • Non-exempt traveller participants: 50,929

Testing Results** (% of positive tests):

  • 1st test at port of entry – 1.37%
  • 2nd test – 0.70%
  • Total – 1.05%

* The content and format of this preliminary update are subject to change. Final numbers may fluctuate as tests are completed and data updated. There have been no new participants since the border pilot was suspended on Feb. 21, 2021.
**Not all border pilot participants will receive both COVID-19 tests. Individuals who test positive in the first test and enter isolation or who withdraw from the pilot are not required to receive a second test. Children under 4 years of age are not required to be tested.

Why we’re doing it

The pilot is a first of its kind partnership with the Government and Canada and industry to reduce the length of quarantine for travellers while still protecting Albertans from COVID-19.

Safely exploring ways to resume travel is an important step in Alberta’s economic recovery. The pilot program will help us collect critical information that will ensure changes to public health measures are informed by strong scientific evidence. Strong measures will be kept in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

  • Participants will be closely monitored.
  • Tests processed as part of the pilot program will not affect public testing timelines.

Contact

Connect with the International Border Testing Pilot Program:

Email: [email protected]