canada border

Travellers will no longer need any mandatory COVID-19 tests to enter Canada

After a few interim steps and a lot of push from various sectors, the Canadian government has finally decided to elimintate its mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements for incoming travellers, according to insider sources.

The most recent federal rules dictated that anyone entering the country — a demographic presently limited to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and fully vaccinated foreign nationals, with some exceptions — must provide proof of a negative rapid test administered by a pharmacy outside of Canada within the last 24 hours.

A negative molecular (e.g. PCR) test taken outside of Canada within the last 72 hours is also acceptable, as is a positive molecular test from between 10 and 180 days prior to arrival due to increased immunity post-infection.

The move from the far more expensive, harder-to-come-by and longer-to-process molecular test to the rapid test on Feb. 28 was celebrated by travellers and airlines alike, but many have been advocating that Ottawa get rid of testing altogether, like they did at one point for quick trips of 72 hours or less before ultimately reversing that decision.

Groups like the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable and the Toronto Region Board of Trade issued a new call last week for the government to remove "unnecessary and non-science based obstacles to international travel" by the end of the month, as provinces continue to reopen back to normal and shed the majority of remaining pandemic measures, including face masks.

"Travel and tourism are massive economic drivers in our province and many businesses in Toronto and across the country depend on international travellers, particularly business travellers," a representative for the latter above-mentioned group said during a press conference on the topic last Thursday.

"Many countries have recognized the time to remove COVID-19 restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers. To set the stage for a complete recovery, Canada needs to join jurisdictions like the U.K. and Switzerland in removing restrictions that are no longer needed."

Carriers such as WestJet, which has continued to have to slash flight schedules, have shared the same feelings lately.

And now, it appears their wishes have been granted, with the CBC and other outlets reporting on Wednesday afternoon that the new rules will commence on April 1.

As of that date, fully vaccinated travellers will apparently no longer be subject to any sort of pre-arrival testing requirements to get into the country, though they may still be subject to randomized testing upon arrival, depending on the airport.

Those who are not fully vaccinated, meanwhile, will still need to come prepared with negative results from a molecular test taken abroad within the last three days, and will also need to have a 14-day quarantine plan in place upon their return.

Jetsetters should also be aware of the entry, testing and quarantine criteria for their destination, as they will almost surely vary from Canada's.

Details and a formal announcement on the subject are expected later on Wednesday.

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