Federal government to end pre-arrival COVID testing for travellers entering Canada

The federal government is expected to announce as soon as tomorrow that travellers entering Canada will no longer have to take a pre-arrival COVID-19 test, CBC News has learned.

Sources with knowledge of the matter confirm Canada is removing the testing requirements at airports and land border crossings.

Currently, travellers entering the country must show proof of a negative antigen or molecular test within a day of their flight or arrival at the border.

That testing requirement will be dropped by the end of the month, the sources said. 

The move comes two years into the pandemic as travel picks up and provinces and territories ease restrictions involving vaccine passports, gatherings and masks.

The federal government will continue to randomly test travellers upon arrival in Canada to identify and track variants, the sources said. The government has been spending millions of dollars on randomly testing vaccinated travellers entering Canada. 

The travel industry has been lobbying the government to ease these testing requirements. Consumers have complained that it’s expensive and a hassle to find approved testing facilities abroad. Some PCR tests cost upwards of $200, while antigen testing typically costs well under $100.

The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, an industry group, called the testing requirement a “non-science-based” obstacle undermining the sector and a “significant deterrent, discouraging international companies from resuming travel into Canada.”

The group pointed out that the United Kingdom, Denmark, Switzerland and Ireland were among the countries that had dropped the testing requirements already and urged Canada to do the same by April 1.

Vaccine mandate for air, rail, ship travel remains in effect

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Zain Chagla told a press conference last month that since the Omicron variant had spread across Canada already, pre- and post-arrival testing is an unnecessary expense.

The government’s vaccine mandate for domestic and international flights departing from Canada, for VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains and for cruise ships will remain in effect for now, sources said. 

The government changed its rules for travellers entering Canada last month by requiring proof of a negative rapid-antigen test, rather than a molecular test.

As of Feb. 28, unvaccinated children under the age of 12 entering Canada no longer have to avoid going to daycares, schools or other crowded settings for two weeks.

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