In November 2021, Canada once again tightened restrictions at the border to try to contain the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. It is now required that all fully vaccinated air travellers (arriving from any country other than the United States) complete a COVID-19 test at the airport they arrive at and then isolate while awaiting the results of this test. This has left many travellers wondering: Can I quarantine in a house or apartment where other people live?

It’s a logical question to ask, especially for people travelling to stay with friends or relatives who have extra rooms.

The answer: you may be able to isolate/quarantine in a shared household, but only if you meet certain conditions. The conditions are outlined below taken directly from this Government of Canada resource. However, please note that the final decision whether or not to approve your entry to Canada rests with the border officer with whom you speak. As well, please note that travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are subject to change at any moment — please refer to the latest Government of Canada travel guidance prior to your travel.

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What you need to do if you want to quarantine in a shared household

If you want to complete your quarantine or isolation in a house or apartment that you share with others with whom you did not travel, you have to address two important questions:

#1 — Will it be possible for you to avoid all contact with the people who didn’t travel with you?

The Government of Canada states that avoiding all contact means you must:

  • stay in a separate room
  • use a separate bathroom (if possible)
  • not be in the same room as those you did not travel with (including kitchens and shared living spaces)
  • not need to use shared spaces of your hotel or building (like lobbies, restaurants, gyms, communal hallways, etc.

You have to be able to answer “Yes” to this question, or your quarantine will likely be deemed unsuitable.

#2 — Is anyone in your shared household considered ‘at risk’?

The Government of Canada states that ‘at risk’ means ANY of the following:

  • is aged 65 or older*
  • has underlying medical conditions*
  • has compromised immune system*
  • is a health care worker or professional**
  • is a first responder**
  • works/assists/volunteers in a facility, home, or workplace for people at risk of more severe disease or outcomes**
  • is an essential visitor or caregiver to a person at risk of more severe disease of outcomes**

You have to be able to answer “No” to this question, or your quarantine will likely be deemed unsuitable, unless one of the following caveats applies:

*If you will be sharing your place of quarantine with someone who is at risk of developing more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19, you may only quarantine with them if they give their consent. You will have to complete a form with the border officer explaining the consent and receive authorization to proceed.

**If you will be sharing your place of quarantine with someone who works with or assists people at risk of more severe disease or outcomes of COVID-19, you must be able to avoid having any contact with them. A border officer will assess this and may refuse your entry if they are not satisfied.

With those two questions in mind, hopefully you assess whether or not your plan to isolate in a share household will be suitable or not! Again — the final decision to approve or deny your quarantine plan will always rest with the border officer. As well, please note that this article only considers the conditions surrounding sharing a household with others during your quarantine — there are other reasons a quarantine location could be deemed unsuitable.

Are you planning travel to Canada? Make sure you have proper health insurance coverage for your stay. Explore your health insurance options with our partner, Cigna. Get started today with a free quote!

All information for this article was obtained using this Government of Canada tool.