random testing pearson

Canada is bringing mandatory random COVID testing back to Toronto's Pearson Airport

As if the process of travelling through Toronto's Pearson International Airport wasn't clunky enough already, Canada's federal government has announced the reinstatement of mandatory random COVID-19 testing for passengers arriving at any of the country's four major airports.

Pearson is one of those airports, natch, alongside the main flight hubs of Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal.

"Mandatory random testing will resume as of July 19, 2022, for travellers who qualify as fully vaccinated, arriving in Canada by air to the four major Canadian airport," reads a notice issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on Thursday.

"To qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller to Canada, travellers must have been vaccinated with a primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine accepted by the Government of Canada for the purpose of travel at least 14 calendar days before entering Canada."

In an effort to speed up the process of getting passengers on and off their flights, amid mounting pressure from an increasingly weary and travel-wary public, the Government of Canada had actually paused mandatory random testing for people arriving by air on June 11.

Unfortunately, major problems still persist despite the measure, at least at Pearson, where travellers report ridiculously long lines, abruptly cancelled flights and mass baggage-claim chaos.

The feds said in their announcement today that removing mandatory test requirements was actually "part of a broader strategy to transition testing for air travellers outside of the airports."

Beginning July 19 (next Tuesday), all testing for air travellers, vaccinated and unvaxxed alike, "will be completed outside of airports, either via an in-person appointment at select testing provider locations and pharmacies, or a virtual appointment for a self-swab test," according to the government.

Both fully vaccinated air travellers who are selected for mandatory random testing and travellers who are not fully vaccinated will receive an email notification within 15 minutes of completing their customs declaration.

This email will tell them how to arrange a test with a provider in their own region. Should that test turn out to be positive, fully vaccinated travellers must go into isolation for 10 days.

Air passengers who are not fully vaccinated need to quarantine for 14 days regardless, as well as take tests on Day 1 and Day 8 after arrival.

"Moving testing outside of airports will support testing for travellers arriving by air while still being able to monitor and quickly respond to new variants of concern, or changes to the epidemiological situation," reads the PHAC release.

"Mandatory random testing continues at land border points of entry, with no changes."

Lead photo by

Toronto Pearson


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