PCR tests no longer needed for short trips: Feds
TORONTO – As of November 30, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents returning home from short trips to the United States and abroad will no longer have to provide proof of molecular testing. negative, such as a PCR test.
The federal government announced that it is lifting the requirement for molecular testing for travelers who received a complete series of COVID-19 vaccines when they returned to Canada in less than 72 hours.
However, molecular testing will still be required for overseas trips lasting more than 72 hours.
“The upcoming changes to Canada’s border entry and testing requirements reflect the next phase in our government’s approach as we align ourselves with improving immunization rates in Canada and around the world,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said during the meeting.
Despite the easing of travel restrictions, Duclos warned that Canadians cannot “be caught off guard” and said that everyone “must work hard to protect the gains we have made” before COVID-19.
In addition to the change in re-entry testing, the federal government announced that travelers who have received Sinopharm, Sinovac and Covaxin COVID-19 vaccines will be considered fully vaccinated for travel purposes by the end of the year. month, in accordance with the COVID-19 vaccine approved by the World Health Organization for use.
Duclos noted that officials are monitoring the situation at the border “closely” and will evaluate these measures and recommend “necessary adjustments as required.”
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said at a press conference on Friday that travelers are still required to enter their travel information into the ArriveCAN app and will be responsible for “maintaining proof of time periods.” Their 72 hours are shown to airlines, railway companies and government officials “as required.”
“Keep in mind that providing false information to a Canadian government official upon entry into Canada is a serious offence, and can result in hefty fines or even criminal charges,” he said.
The federal government lifted global advice asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country in October, but continues to recommend against traveling by cruise ship.
The U.S. government reopened its land border to Canadian non-essential travelers on November 8, while air travel to the United States was allowed under certain conditions.
Previous border measures required all travelers entering Canada, regardless of immunization status, to present evidence of a negative molecular COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours of crossing the border. land border or flight departure.
For trips of less than 72 hours, travelers have been allowed to take a COVID-19 test in Canada prior to departure under current rules, then display the Canadian results upon their return.
These rules remain in effect until November 30.
Molecular tests can cost anywhere from $150 to $300. Antigen tests, which typically cost as little as $40 to $60, are not accepted into Canada.
Pressure is on the federal government from politicians and travel agencies on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border to lift the PCR test entry requirement for short trips, arguing that the tests Expensive inspections can prevent travel between the two countries.
Critics have also called for the complete repeal of the testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers, but Canada is expected to take a gradual approach to easing some related measures. to the pandemic at the border.
ENTRY TEST STILL REQUIRED FOR USERS
Canada opened its borders in October to non-essential international travelers who received both doses of Health Canada’s approved COVID-19 vaccine and fully vaccinated Americans who were allowed to cross. border into Canada since August, subject to certain entry conditions.
Canada’s director of public health Dr Theresa Tam said the federal government was taking a “phased approach” to allowing fully vaccinated travelers to enter the country without testing. negative molecule.
Tam said on Friday that allowing Canadian travelers to re-enter the country without PCR testing during short trips would help “minimize the risk” of an increase in COVID-19 cases coming from abroad. She added that the difference between Canadian and US travelers reflects more than “activity considerations” at this point.
Tam said public health agencies are better able to track Canadian citizens and permanent residents when they return to Canada than American tourists.
However, the Americans could soon be next.
Representative Brian Higgins of New York told CTV’s Power Play on Thursday that Canada plans to phase out PCR testing travel requirements for fully vaccinated travelers in three phases: “People Canadians first, Americans, then everyone else.”
Duclos said the federal government will “reassess entry requirements for US citizens coming to Canada” and will provide an update “at a later date.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce was quick to criticize the decision, calling Ottawa’s change in testing requirements a “one-way door at the border.”
“As the holiday shopping season – the most important period for the retail sector – kicks in, Ottawa is making it easier for Canadians to shop across borders while maintaining punitive restrictions that discourage fully vaccinated Americans vacation or shop in Canada.” Chairman and CEO Perrin Beatty said in a statement Friday.
“The 72-hour deadline is also arbitrary. It’s hard to understand how a tourist who is low-risk for 72 hours becomes a hazard at 73.”
The National Aviation Council of Canada (NACC), which represents Canada’s biggest airlines including Air Canada and WestJet, also criticized the changes, saying they haven’t gone far enough.
President and CEO Mike McNaney said in a statement Friday that pre-departure PCR testing should be lifted for all fully vaccinated passengers and said the federal government is working on it. takes a “partial approach” by focusing only on short trips and Canadian visitors.
“Pre-departure screening is no longer reasonable for fully vaccinated travelers,” McNaney said. “What matters is not the duration of the trip or the nationality of the passenger, but the vaccination status of the passenger.”
FREE VACCINE ENDS IN THE NEW YEAR
The federal government said Friday it will require certain groups of travelers, who are currently exempt from entry requirements, to be fully vaccinated with Health Canada’s approved COVID-19 vaccine in order to enter this country.
“With the greater availability of these vaccines in many parts of the world, we will also further reduce the number of entry waivers for undervaccinated adults,” Duclos said. speak.
These changes apply to all essential service providers, including truck drivers, work permit holders, including temporary foreign workers, as well as other groups, such as as international students and athletes.
After January 15, 2022, the federal government said unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will only be allowed to enter Canada under “limited exceptions”, which applies for certain groups such as agricultural and food processing workers, crew, new permanent residents. , resettling refugees and those entering the country on “compassionate grounds”.
However, those exempted will still be subject to entry requirements, including mandatory quarantine and molecular testing.
Unvaccinated foreign nationals who are not exempt will be “barred from entering Canada.”
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in a statement Friday announcing the changes to require foreign nationals to be fully vaccinated would add “another important layer of protection at the border.”
“Many foreign nationals and international students coming to Canada are fully vaccinated, and the measures announced today will help ensure that Canadians remain protected against COVID-19 as the pandemic continues,” Fraser said. The economy reopens and international tourism resumes.”