An expert panel convened by the federal government to provide direction on its response to handling testing and screening for COVID-19 has recommended ending the requirement for all air travellers to be forced to quarantine inside government-run facilities.
The panel considered three broad principles in its decision:
- Border measures must evolve to reflect the experience gained and the global situation regarding variants of concern and vaccination
- Border measures must be simple, easy to understand, equitable and consider both benefits and harms
Changes to border measures should be implemented in stages
The controversial quarantine hotel policy fell under the second principle, where the the panel recommended that:
The current requirement for all air travellers to quarantine in government-authorized accommodations should be discontinued. However, travellers subject to quarantine must provide a suitable quarantine plan for approval and then adhere to this plan. If the traveller does not have a suitable quarantine plan, they should be required to adhere to an alternative one (for example, in designated quarantine facilities).
One of the important areas of focus to the panel was the ease and consistency of the government's requirements. Border measures need to be more uniform, the panel said, not differ between air and land arrivals. The panel also pointed to the number of travellers who were choosing to forgo the hotel quarantine, risk a $3,000 fine, and then were likely much harder to trace.
Despite recommending an end to the forced hotel quarantine for all travellers, the panel did, however, suggest the government continue to examine quarantine plans for travellers arriving both by land and air, and stated that those without suitable arrangements would still be required to adhere to alternative plans — like staying at a designated quarantine facility.
Because of the global nature of travel, the panel did not suggest country-specific testing or quarantine requirements, though it did encourage increased monitoring for quarantine compliance of individuals arriving from countries with new variants of concern.