Canada has for more than the past year become known as having arguably the most stringent and far-reaching travel screening and lockdown/quarantine polices of any country. For example the US-Canada border is still closed, but is set to open August 9th - only for the fully vaccinated.
Throughout what's essentially been more or less a 'permanent' state of lockdown since the start of the pandemic, even Canadians re-entering the country from outside have had to quarantine for at least two weeks if they can't show proof of vaccination. This policy has been in effect in other countries as well, especially in Europe, which has perhaps made it inevitable that foreign travelers have sought to find ways around the restrictions. Authorities have worried about fake vaccination certificates popping up globally as the concept of 'COVID passports' has remained under discussion and is already fast becoming a reality at least in practice.
One particular recent instance being reported this week included a pair of American travelers busted by the Canadian government for what were described as fake COVID-19 vaccination documents, apparently in their bid to avoid quarantine measures and successfully enter the country.
They were reportedly fined 20,000 Canadian dollars each - or about $25,000 USD - after getting caught with the fakes. In total the pair will pay a whopping $50,000 fine.
"The unnamed travelers arrived from the U.S. in Canada the week of July 18. Officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) fined each traveler four times for a total of 19,720 CAD per traveler" Fox details.
Official protocol required that they also show a negative COVID test before boarding the inbound plane, after which travelers are required to be confined in a government-approved hotel for three days at the end of which they have to test negative again. All of this is at the traveler's expense of course.
In this latest falsified documents case, the American pair even had fake negative tests:
The fake documents consisted of proof of vaccinations and pre-departure tests; officials also cited the pair for "non-compliance" with government requirements for accommodation and on-arrival testing, according to a PHAC press release.
The press release further laid out the maximum possible penalty for traveling with fake COVID documents or lying to enforcement officers as follows:
Violating any quarantine or isolation instructions provided to travellers by a screening officer or quarantine officer when entering Canada is also an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to a $5,000 fine for each day of non-compliance or for each offence committed, or more serious penalties, including six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.
Entirely predictable. https://t.co/n9ymL2KKq3— Vetarnias (@Vetarnias) July 31, 2021
But likely this is only the beginning - as what are tantamount to 'vaccine passports' becomes the de facto new normal across various parts of the globe, there's little doubt that an entire sophisticated counterfeit documents industry will arise - if it hasn't already.