Vernon businesswoman handed $5,750 ticket for not having COVID app upon return to Canada

Costly travel surprise

A Vernon businesswoman was slapped with an almost $6,000 fine upon re-entry to Canada for not having the ArriveCAN app to confirm her vaccination status.

Crystal Hedlund of Baked Blessings in Vernon says she is double vaccinated and a "religious mask user" – but that didn't stop her from getting a costly surprise upon her return from Los Angeles last weekend.

Aside from being a baker, Hedlund also acts as a "puppy nanny," delivering dogs to their forever homes around the world.

"I received my pre-flight COVID test, which was done 72 hours before my trip," Hedlund tells Castanet.

"The trip was planned for Sept 12th, to return on the 13th. There were a few options for the pre-flight test. One was LifeLabs based out of Shoppers Drug Mart. You pay $76, after that you choose your location to be tested. The locations were far and few between – and all of them were booked solid for months."

So, Hedlund went to Kelowna Airport and was told she could get a COVID test on site. It turns out that test was a PCR test and not the antigen test required for U.S. travel, although YLW does offer both.

"I received a negative result before I arrived back home to Blind Bay," says Hedlund.

She printed the papers and signed them, and assumed everything was fine.

The flight to L.A. went smoothly, and Hedlund delivered the pup to its new owners. "Flying out of L.A., that's when it went downhill," she says.

A customs officer in Vancouver "looked at my paper and scribbled a huge red Q along with some other scribbles and told me to go see the public health person at one of the other stands. I went and talked to her, and this is where it goes down in flames."

Hedlund was asked if she had the ArriveCAN app and had completed its questionnaire.

"I said 'what app?' I didn't know anything about an app? She said, 'Yes, you had to have downloaded it before leaving L.A., otherwise you're not admissible into Canada."

By this time, Hedlund was in tears, but the woman said she would "go out of her way this one time" and allow her to download the app and fill it out quickly.

Hedlund thought she was in the clear, but was then slapped with a $5,750 ticket for failure to comply with rules for entry back into Canada.

"I was in shock, devastated, sick to my stomach," she says of the ordeal.

"So they give me the ticket ... and then release me into the public to go get tested and allow me to fly to Kelowna ... saying I have to quarantine until the results come back.

"If it was such a big deal ... (you'd) think they would have kept me until the results came back. Not that I would have been very happy with that, but still. It makes zero sense."

She received a negative test result Tuesday morning before flying to Kelowna.

Hedlund says she's "beyond disgusted" that no one told her she had to have the ArriveCAN app.

The app was introduced in April of last year and made mandatory for international travel on Nov. 21.

Hedlund booked her flight with Air Canada and says she feels either airlines, airports or governments should inform travellers of the requirements before they depart to avoid a similar "horrible experience."

YLW airport director Sam Samaddar said travellers "need to understand what the requirements are to get back into Canada."

He said airline staff are required to ask for credentials when travellers check in for entry to the U.S. and that Canada's airports and the federal government have both "been out there for a long time" with an informational push on pandemic travel safety measures and restrictions.

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