The federal authorities introduced Thursday that it’s going to cast off the pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirement for all totally vaccinated travellers coming to Canada, eradicating a serious roadblock to the free circulate of individuals.
Well being Minister Jean-Yves Duclos mentioned that with vaccination charges excessive and the COVID-19 case rely secure, Ottawa is now snug with decreasing restrictions on travellers destined for Canada. The change will take impact subsequent month.
“I believe it is honest to say that we at the moment are getting into right into a transition part of this pandemic,” Duclos instructed a press convention. “We at the moment are able to announce additional adjustments to frame measures.”
The federal government has confronted strain from frequent travellers, border cities, some medical professionals, the opposition Conservatives, airways and tourism operators to drop pre-entry testing — a course of some have criticized as dear and pointless at this stage of the pandemic.
What does this imply for Canada-bound totally vaccinated travellers?
Beginning April 1, 2022, travellers is not going to have to get both a PCR/molecular take a look at or an antigen COVID-19 take a look at earlier than coming to Canada.
In the event you’ve had two pictures of an accepted vaccine (or one dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine), you’ll be able to cross the border in a manner that is similar to how issues labored earlier than the pandemic.
A totally vaccinated traveller will nonetheless want to finish a questionnaire within the ArriveCAN cellular app or on the federal government’s web site earlier than approaching a border crossing. Travellers can be required to reply a collection of questions on their vaccination standing and journey historical past.
Because the early days of the pandemic, incoming, non-essential travellers have needed to get examined overseas earlier than boarding a flight to Canada or driving throughout the Canada-U.S. boundary.
The measure was meant to restrict the introduction of novel coronavirus circumstances from overseas. The method was anxious — the provision of molecular testing is restricted in some areas and turnaround occasions range vastly. These assessments needed to be carried out inside 72 hours earlier than departure and lots of travellers reported sluggish processing occasions at some clinics.
The molecular assessments additionally do not come low-cost. Up till final month, a traveller wanted a PCR take a look at to enter Canada — which routinely prices properly over $200.
Travellers getting a optimistic consequence weren’t allowed to return to Canada till 10 days after a optimistic take a look at — one thing that prompted many travellers to increase their resort stays or rebook flights at premium costs.
Whereas a take a look at is not required as of April 1, symptomatic travellers will nonetheless not be allowed to cross into Canada.
What does this imply for travellers coming to Canada between now and April 1?
A pre-entry take a look at continues to be required.
The federal government will settle for both a molecular or antigen take a look at carried out by a lab or via a acknowledged telehealth service. A speedy antigen take a look at — a take a look at carried out at residence — just isn’t acceptable as a result of the take a look at have to be “professionally administered or noticed,” in accordance with authorities laws. A molecular take a look at have to be carried out 72 hours earlier than departure, whereas an antigen take a look at have to be accomplished one calendar day earlier than entry.
Will there nonetheless be arrival testing after April 1?
Sure, for now. Whereas the federal authorities will cast off the pre-entry requirement, some travellers will nonetheless be randomly picked for an arrival take a look at.
Some travellers can be given a take-home take a look at — that is typically the one possibility on the land border — or can be despatched to see a nurse on the airport arrivals space. Travellers accumulate assessments or go for swabs, then proceed on to their ultimate locations.
Beginning April 1, travellers from overseas is not going to be required to quarantine whereas they await the outcomes of that take a look at — they will go about their lives as regular.
The federal government is sustaining the arrival testing regime as a result of it helps observe variants of the virus. Public well being officers can even monitor what number of travellers are returning to Canada with COVID, Duclos mentioned.
What if you happen to’re unvaccinated?
Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated Canadian travellers returning to Canada will nonetheless be topic to testing necessities.
Duclos mentioned these travellers can be examined with molecular assessments on arrival and on the eighth day after arrival. These travellers should quarantine for 14 days — no matter their take a look at outcomes throughout that interval.
Usually talking, unvaccinated overseas nationals usually are not allowed to journey to Canada. There are some very limited exceptions.
Do you want a take a look at to journey to different nations?
The reply will depend on the place you wish to go.
Some nations — like the UK as of March 18 — don’t require a pre-entry take a look at. If you are going to England, no testing of any variety is required, even if you happen to’re unvaccinated. The necessities are completely different for different components of the U.Okay., like Scotland.
In the event you’re travelling to the U.S. by air, you’ll nonetheless be required to take an antigen take a look at not more than in the future earlier than your scheduled departure. All non-U.S. citizen air travellers to the U.S. have to be totally vaccinated to board a aircraft headed to that nation.
In the event you’re totally vaccinated and travelling to the U.S. by land or by a ferry, a take a look at just isn’t required. The U.S. dropped its testing necessities for land-based travellers final October.
Now that Canada has achieved away with its pre-entry testing requirement, totally vaccinated travellers can cross the Canada-U.S. land border simply as they did earlier than the pandemic hit — though for now, individuals getting into Canada will nonetheless be required to fill out the ArriveCAN questionnaire every time they make the journey.
Air Canada’s Travel Ready hub online directory tracks the present testing necessities for all different nations.
Will you continue to be required to put on a masks when travelling?
Sure, that hasn’t modified. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra mentioned travellers on planes and trains will nonetheless be required to put on a masks at airports and prepare stations and whereas on board.
Whereas some provinces and territories have dropped masks mandates, or are getting ready to take action, the federal authorities will demand that federally regulated transport sectors proceed to implement masks carrying onboard planes, trains and sure marine vessels.
What does the federal government imply by “totally vaccinated?”
To qualify as a completely vaccinated traveller to Canada, you could have obtained not less than two doses of a vaccine accepted for journey (this contains a mixture of two accepted vaccines) or not less than one dose of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
You will need to have obtained your second dose not less than 14 calendar days earlier than you enter Canada. For instance, in case your second dose was anytime on March 1, then March 15 can be the primary day that you just meet the 14 day situation.
Whereas some nations, akin to Denmark and France, have modified their definition of totally vaccinated to incorporate a 3rd booster dose, Canada has not but made that shift.
Duclos mentioned the federal government might make a change at any time. He inspired all Canadians to get a 3rd shot as a result of it provides a lot larger safety in opposition to extreme COVID-19 outcomes — and it might additionally scale back the chance of contracting an precise case of the novel coronavirus.
Which vaccines qualify you as “totally vaccinated”?
- AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222)
- Bharat Biotech (Covaxin, BBV152 A, B, C)
- Janssen/Johnson & Johnson
- Moderna (mRNA-1273)
- Novavax (NVX-COV2373, Nuvaxovid, Covovax)
- Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2) together with for kids aged 5 to 11 years
- Sinopharm BIBP (BBIBP-CorV)
- Sinovac (CoronaVac, PiCoVacc)
May the federal authorities carry again pre-arrival testing?
Sure. The federal government has dropped some testing necessities up to now solely to revive them later because the COVID-19 scenario deteriorated.
Final fall, for instance, some individuals going to the U.S. for 3 days or much less had been exempted from a pre-entry take a look at. That requirement was restored with the onset of the Omicron wave.
“At present’s announcement is encouraging, however allow us to keep in mind that all measures are topic to assessment. We’ll proceed to regulate them because the epidemiological scenario evolves,” Duclos mentioned.