Voluntary Covid-19 testing coming to Coutts crossing

COUTTS, Alta. – A pilot project in Alberta will soon offer commercial drivers and other international travelers access to voluntary Covid-19 tests at the Coutts border crossing.

The tests begin Nov. 2, and will also be offered at the Calgary International Airport.

The support comes as part of a broader initiative as the government explores alternatives to the 14-day quarantine requirements currently placed on non-essential international travelers. In the latter case, those with a negative result can end their quarantines if they commit to a second Covid test on Day 6 or 7 after arriving.

Truck drivers who don’t display symptoms can cross the border without subjecting themselves to a 14-day quarantine.

“Covid testing like this helps strengthen and protect Alberta’s supply chain and meet the growing demand for service in our province,” said Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) president Chris Nash in a related release.

The pilot is expected to operator until next spring or summer, the Canadian Trucking Alliance reports. Coutts is the ninth busiest border crossing for commercial traffic in Canada.

“We continue to review the latest evidence on how testing could be used to ease border measures,” said Dominic LeBlanc, federal minister of intergovernmental affairs.

“My priorities are the safety and security of the traveling public and Canada’s transportation system. The pilot project is an example of how we continue to work with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, provincial and territorial governments, and transportation industry stakeholders to reduce the risk of transmission while seeking new safety measures for international travel,” said Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

“This new pilot program will allow those who need to travel for work to have a safe path to a shorter quarantine period. Since the start of this pandemic, Alberta’s government has highlighted the importance to protect lives and livelihoods,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenny.

While this is the first voluntary program of its kind at the border crossing, other jurisdictions like Ontario and New Brunswick have also offered tests to truck drivers.