Dec 17, 2021
Canada is increasing testing requirements for international travelers and dropping its travel ban on flights from 10 African countries as the government tries to quash the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Starting Tuesday, all travelers will once again need to get a COVID-19 molecular test before returning to Canada. The announcement from Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos rolls back an exemption announced last month that fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents taking short trips abroad, under 72 hours, wouldn’t need proof of a negative test before returning home.
“As of Dec. 21, the requirement for pre-arrival testing will be in place again for trips of all duration,” he said.
Federal officials said the government has expanded capacity to also test arrivals at Canadian airports, growing it from testing 11,000 air travelers a day on Nov. 30 to 20,960 tests as of Dec. 16.
The re-introduction of testing is on top of the warning earlier this week to avoid non-essential travel over the holidays as the variant rages around the world.
The federal government changed its official guidance to advise Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country for the time being.
“We are aware of many Canadians who are listening and are canceling their trips. These Canadians are leading by example and helping protect the health of their family, their community, and themselves,” said Duclos.
Airports Council urges government to ‘step away from restricting travel’
Earlier this morning, the Canadian Airports Council issued a statement lamenting that confusion around testing at airports, and travel advisories, are causing avoidable worry.
“The decision to impose a blanket travel advisory, plus the ongoing confusion about arrivals testing at airports, has created a great deal of uncertainty for Canadians, particularly just prior to the holiday season, adversely affecting lives and livelihoods,” said spokesperson Debra Ward.
“Canadians would be better served if the federal government were to step away from restricting travel and instead focus on what we know works to slow the virus: ramping up vaccinations, implementing standardized and predictable testing (including at-home and rapid testing), and continued social distancing and masking.”
travel.gc.ca, ctvnews.ca, cbc.ca