Posted on Feb 17th, 2022 by Ankita Awasthi, Last updated on Aug 18th, 2022
All travelers who are fully vaccinated and arriving in Canada are no longer required to undergo a molecular test or the Covid-19 PCR test. In fact, this shall be effective from February 28th, 2022, as announced by Health Minister Jean-Yves-Yves Duclos on Tuesday.
Travelers are still required to undergo a prior-arrival test; however, they may alternatively opt for an official rapid antigen test at least one day prior to their flight or when they arrive at the border.
Antigen tests are generally less costly than molecular tests and can give results within minutes.
Beginning on February 28th, kids who are not vaccinated, are younger than 12 years, and are entering Canada with their parents who have been fully vaccinated won’t have to stay out of daycare, schools, or other locations that are packed in the span of 14 days as stated by Duclos.
Presently, anyone who wants to enter Canada requires proof of a negative test in the first 72-hour period of departing flight or scheduled arrival at the border.
Travelers who have been fully vaccinated may be randomly chosen for the PCR test at their arrival. Duclos confirmed that its arrival screening program will be in force until February, 28th and the travelers won’t have to stay in quarantine until they receive the results of their tests.
The government has also announced plans to lift the advisory currently in place about advice against travel that is not essential.
Duclos shared that the government is planning to make changes due to the gradual improvement of the pandemic situation.
“We have passed the peak of the latest wave driven by the Omicron variant,” he further added.
“In addition, after two years of following individual public health measures, such as getting vaccinated, wearing masks, keeping our distance and staying at home if sick, Canadians know what to do to keep themselves and each other safe.”
Duclos also mentioned further stating that the measures for travel could be altered based upon the course and intensity of the pandemic strain.
If the conditions improve, he suggested that further testing measures may be dropped, including the requirement for testing Canadians traveling to America. The United States for short trips shorter than 72 hours.
The government did not make mention of removing its policy that those who are positive at home must wait for at least 10 full days prior to arriving in Canada.
“I want to emphasize that Canadians should be aware while traveling to other countries,” said Duclos. “There is still a real danger of getting sick or being stranded.”
Looking at the record of the previous few months, representatives from the industry of travel as well as certain doctors have successfully lobbied government officials to eliminate any testing requirements that apply to travelers who have been fully vaccinated.
The rules enforced the flyer to bear the cost for a molecular test prior to their arrival that could take thousands of dollars as it was a compulsory document for flying. According to the critics, it’s also not very logical to ask a flyer to obtain results in the stipulated 72 hours as they usually require processing in a laboratory, and delay in the same may lead them to miss their flight.
In the meantime, the administration is shelling out billions of dollars to test thousands of travelers who are vaccinated daily at the time of their arrival.
In the last week, an infectious disease physician Zain Chagla took part in an interview where he said that both pre- and post-arrival tests are a waste of cost since Omicron is already spreading to Canada.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, Chagla claimed during an interview the removal of the requirement for a molecular test prior to arrival is an important move in the right direction. However, he also asked how effective the less sensitive test will be in preventing the spreading of COVID-19.
“You’re likely not going to pick up a ton of cases this way,” said a professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Mr. Chagla. He further added, “You’ll address a little bit of an extra level of protection for the plane ride, but it certainly won’t be a lot.”
However, Dr. Prabhat Jha, a St. Michael’s hospital, Toronto’s epidemiologist, was pleased with this move of the government. Dr. Jha said that antigen tests are beneficial because they can be conducted prior to the time a traveler starts their return journey.
“Having the testing as close to departure [as possible] is a reasonable strategy and rapid antigen tests actually work quite well for that.” He shared
He further informed that purchasing an antigen test will be easier and less expensive for travelers as this test typically costs around $100.
Other tests could cost a fortune for some people and add up to the total travel expense.
While the test for antigen could be more opportune, Canadian snowbird David Fine admitted that he’s not completely satisfied with the new test option requirements shifting to antigen prior to arrival.
Fine, a snow traveller who is passing his winter period on an RV Yuma, Ariz., foretells that booking an antigen test is a challenge as he travels back in Hepworth, Ont., in early April, as thousands of snowbirds returning to the area during the month will be booking the same test.
“I was personally disappointed,” he wrote in reference to the announcement made by the government. “It’s going to be hard to find a rapid test.”
Fine further shared his disappointment against the latest government guidelines that suggested the elimination of the requirement to test travelers prior to arrival for travelers who have been fully vaccinated.
“They should trust Canadians, especially the ones who have three vaccines,” the doctor declared. “We’re cautious people.”
Certain countries, like those in the United Kingdom and Denmark, have abandoned all testing requirements for travelers who have been fully vaccinated.
Also, the government announced that on February 28th, 2022, International flights are able to arrive at all International Canadian airports. Previously, the government had banned airlines from flying internationally to specific airports because of the pandemic.
Exciting, isn’t it? Well, there is a possibility for more lineage to such stringent COVID rules due to the intensity relaxation on the spread of COVID cases.
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Ankita Awasthi has been a content writer for over half a decade now. She seeks to satiate her writing urge by charting creative blogs with up-to-the-minute information. In true wordsmith spirit, she believes that a creative head never sleeps! Her blogs constantly aspire to inspire readers to live their travel dream. Her writing genre covers Indian tourism destinations, offbeat locales and travel guides with focus on its rich art history, culture, heritage, nature trails and travelling attributes.