travel restrictions

Toronto's Pearson Airport still not testing all international travelers despite new rule

Given concerns over the new omicron variant, the federal government has vowed to take action at Canada's borders to better test and monitor inbound travelers — except that at Toronto Pearson International, the regulations still haven't come into effect.

It was revealed last week that "in the coming days," all international passengers arriving at Canadian airports (except from those coming from the U.S.) would be tested for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status.

Meanwhile, foreign nationals who have recently been to a list of 10 African countries where the strain was first identified, including Nigeria, Malawi and South Africa, are fully banned for the time being.

But, despite this announcement six days ago, Canada's biggest airport has yet to actually ramp up its COVID-19 testing, and is still only conducting randomized tests on people entering from international locales.

When asked on Twitter on Saturday whether the hub had implemented new testing requirements for all entrants from other countries save for the U.S., the Toronto Pearson team said that though "all international arriving travellers should be prepared for a COVID-19 test upon arrival," this is part of the government's random mandatory testing program only.

"At this point, it is random testing, the official start date for all testing has yet to be announced by the federal government," they continued.

In another tweet on Sunday, those running the Pearson account reiterated that Ottawa has still not provided an official start date, and that the airport is waiting for an update.

Frequent flyers are preparing themselves for absolute chaos and even worse lineups at points of entry under the new requirements — the details of which are vague and confusing at this point — and many are even pre-emptively cancelling their vacation plans because of omicron.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is among those officials who have said the variant is nothing to panic about, as cases thus far have been mild and the system is well prepared as far as testing, contact tracing, hospital capacity and vaccination numbers.

The mortality rate for COVID-19 overall in Ontario based on our nearly 625,000 total confirmed cases is 1.6 per cent.

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