travel restrictions canada

Canada just added more travel restrictions for crossing the US border

Canada's travel rules and restrictions are changing again and it is good news for those in banned countries but not for people with trip plans this holiday season.

A travel ban on African countries started shortly after the variant was discovered in November. At first, the ban was in place for travellers coming from South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini. The on Nov. 30, three other countries were added - Nigeria, Egypt, and Malawi.

The measure was criticized by the WHO as "blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread."

The WHO feared countries would stop reporting new variants.

Canada's Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced on Dec. 17 that the ban will end on Dec. 18.

"While we recognize that this initial emergency measure created controversy, we believe it was a necessary measure to slow the arrival of Omicron in Canada," he said. "Given the current situation, this measure has served its purpose and is no longer necessary."

This week the federal government reinstated the travel advisory to halt all non-essential travel outside of Canada. Now, the government is adding one more measure – reintroducing the requirements for a pre-arrival PCR test result for all travellers, leaving the country for less than 72 hours as of Dec. 21.

So even if you are taking a quick trip to the U.S. you will need to take the test.

When asked why Canada was reinstating the 72-hour rule, given that the test won't catch people newly infected with COVID-19, Duclos admitted it is not a perfect measure.

"It's an additional layer to protect the health and safety of those that are travelling and those that will be exposed to them once people come back to the country," he says.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer said it is true the test won't catch every case but it is believed the incubation period for the Omicron variant seems to be shorter.

Even as airlines such as WestJet question Canada's response, Duclos said once again, now is not the time to travel.

"Once you have left the country once you are stranded, once you are sick, there is little the Canadian government can do to help you," he said.

Lead photo by

Ken Lund

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