toronto pearson airport

This is what it's like at Pearson Airport in Toronto right now

Travelling through Toronto's Pearson Airport can be stressful even at the best of times, but long lines and rising COVID-19 cases are making things even more difficult right now.

Many people made Christmas travel plans well in advance of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and the reinstating of Canada's travel advisory.

Essential travel is still allowed and, for those who did make it to the airport, there were some tense moments.

"Sitting in the airport and I want to scream this," wrote one person on Twitter. "I count 6 people in my immediate area with their noses out. And Pearson is the only airport (out of 4 I've just been in) that didn't ask for my QR code. Essential travel not pleasure 4 me."

Line-ups show close contact while, ironically, people were waiting to be tested for COVID-19.

Some of the lines reportedly had hundreds of people waiting.

While indoor social gatherings are restricted to 10 people, photos show many people packed together in the airport.

There are also concerns for airport staff who are forced to line-up for passes in the airport.

Pearson responded, saying they would look into the issue.

"Employee and passenger Health and Safety is of major concern at the Toronto Pearson and as such your concern will be forwarded to the appropriate agency to delve into further and take a look at your suggestion of appointments," the airport wrote.

Pearson International Airport provides information on COVID-19 testing on its website and warns people to expect delays.

"The arrivals process may take 2-3 hours, largely due to government health checks, depending on your specific set of circumstances," Pearson notes.

Airport authorities suggest pre-registering for arrival COVID-19 tests with Switch Health to avoid the registration line.

They also say "to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, all passengers and airport employees must wear a mask at all times" and ask people to "follow in-terminal signage and maintain a safe physical distance whenever possible."

Pearson Airport provided a statement to blogTO, saying passengers should be prepared to maintain a safe distance from others where possible. If difficult, the Government of Canada suggests a layered approach including mask wearing, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and ventilation systems. 

Terminal access is limited to same-day passengers and employees on duty with limited exceptions, including those who are assisting individuals with disabilities or unattended minors, the airport said.

A variety of low- or no-touch processes are in place at the airport.

"We've made enhancements to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in our terminals, including optimized flow and the installation of industry-approved air filters and UVC arrays in select air handling units to kill pathogens," the statement reads.

Enhanced cleaning throughout the terminals takes place every two hours, with a focus on high-touch areas, including escalators, moving walkways, handrails, stairways, baggage carts, kiosks and bathrooms.

This post was updated with a statement from Pearson Airport.

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