The Public Health Agency of Canada has fined two travelers nearly $ 20,000 each for falsifying the COVID-19 vaccine and test documents.
Both arrived by plane from the United States in the week of July 18, according to a press release distributed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on Friday that did not disclose which airline they flew with.
“Each traveler received four fines – a total of $ 19,720 (per) traveler – for providing false information related to vaccination credentials and pre-departure tests, as well as for failing to meet the requirement to stay in a government – accommodation requirements authorized and tests on arrival, “says the statement.
Since January, Canadians traveling internationally must obtain a negative COVID molecular test before boarding a plane to Canada. If they don’t, but are still allowed to board, they are subject to fines upon arrival.
The rule did not go into effect at land borders until the end of February.
Around then, the government also imposed a hotel quarantine mandate that required all air travelers arriving in Canada to isolate themselves in a government-approved hotel for three nights, or until they received a negative COVID test. A hotel stay could cost travelers more than $ 1,500.
As COVID infections declined and vaccination rates increased, the federal government began easing travel restrictions.
Canadians must still obtain a negative COVID test before returning home.
But since July 5, fully vaccinated Canadian citizens or permanent residents arriving in Canada are no longer required to self-quarantine in a government-approved hotel. Vaccinated travelers can also avoid the 14-day quarantine period, provided they test negative for COVID upon arrival.
To be eligible for the exemption, travelers must have received both doses of a Health Canada-approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival, and must submit proof electronically through the ArriveCAN app, also prior to arriving in Canada.
The Canada Border Services Agency works closely with PHAC to ensure that only valid proof of vaccination documents are accepted, the agency’s press release reads.
“Providing false information or documents to a Canadian government official when entering Canada, or making false statements or presenting fraudulent documents, such as vaccination credentials, is a serious offense and may result in fines or criminal charges,” PHAC said.
Ottawa has spent months working with its allies, including the G7 countries and the European Union, to develop a standardized international passport and vaccine system. Canadian officials have repeatedly refused to say when such a system might be in place.
According to a Politico report last week, the Canadian government does not believe it will be able to implement a Canadian vaccine passport system until at least December of this year.
According to a leaked PowerPoint presentation prepared by the Canadian Treasury Board for internal use, Canada is lagging behind other countries in developing the digital infrastructure necessary to record everyone’s vaccination status.
READ MORE: Ten travelers charged, four arrested, for violating the Quarantine Law
Most Canadian provinces offer paper vaccination tests, while Quebec also issues digital records.
Unvaccinated Canadians are still required to be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival from a foreign country, but the hotel quarantine mandate will be lifted for all travelers in early August.
Beginning August 9, fully vaccinated Americans will be able to enter Canada, provided they meet the requirements that also apply to fully vaccinated Canadians. Ottawa plans to reopen the border to vaccinated travelers from the rest of the world on September 7, but that date could change, depending on how many Canadians are vaccinated by then.
READ MORE: Canada to ease travel restrictions for vaccinated Americans on August 9