• Wed. May 11th, 2022

Airline industry happy to see end to COVID testing requirements for Canadians

ByKimberly A. Brochu

Mar 17, 2022

“We heard from our passengers how their travel decisions have been affected by the costs and uncertainties associated with past testing protocols”

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OTTAWA – Vaccinated travelers will no longer need a negative COVID test to enter Canada, but rules around masking and vaccines remain in place for now.

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The federal government confirmed Thursday that the new rules will come into effect on April 1 and mark the first time in two years that Canadians will be able to travel and return without any tests or mandatory requirements.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the country was over the Omicron wave and Canadians had done their part.

“We are now in a much better position in March 2022 than in March 2020. High vaccination rates and strong adherence to public health measures pushed us through the peak of the Omicron wave,” he said. declared.

The new rules remove the requirement for travelers to take a COVID test before returning to Canada. The government had previously scrapped the requirement for testing on arrival. Travelers will still need to use the ArriveCan app to upload their vaccine information.

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Travelers will still be required to wear a mask on planes and trains and the lack of a testing requirement only applies to vaccinated travellers. Unvaccinated travelers will still face mandatory testing and quarantine pending negative results.

  1. Canadian Customs on the Peace Bridge, which spans the Niagara River and connects Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario.

    Vaccinated travelers will not need a COVID-19 test to enter Canada from April 1

  2. Travelers check in at Terminal 1 at Toronto Pearson International Airport during the Covid 19 pandemic in Toronto, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

    Canada relaxes border measures

Airlines have welcomed the news. Suzanne Acton-Gervais, interim president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, said this would allow them to resume more normal operations.

“Today’s announcement will allow the aviation industry, which represents a major segment of the Canadian economy, to continue to take real steps towards recovery,” she said. “By supporting more than half a million direct and indirect jobs, the revitalization of aviation will help spur the overall recovery of the Canadian economy.

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Many other countries have already eliminated the need for negative tests for vaccinated passengers.

Acton-Gervais said he heard from customers that the testing requirement, which can cost hundreds of dollars, was a major hurdle.

“Canadian airlines have been among the many voices calling for updated travel guidelines and protocols, guided by scientific evidence,” he said. “We heard from our passengers about how their travel decisions have been affected by the costs and uncertainties associated with past testing protocols.”

Duclos said the government will continue to follow public health advice on when other restrictions might be lifted, including vaccination mandates and masking requirements. There have been spikes in COVID cases in some countries around the world in recent weeks.

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He said they would watch the data, but right now Canada is in a much better position than it was in early January.

“One in 10 travelers entering Canada in January tested positive for COVID. This was obviously much larger than what we had seen in December and before that; that rate is down to about 1% now,” he said.

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the pandemic has improved disease surveillance systems here in Canada and around the world. He said he was confident they would have the data needed to continue monitoring for possible future outbreaks.

“Surveillance systems around the world, but also the interconnection of surveillance systems, have certainly improved over the past few years,” he said.

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“High vaccination rates and strong adherence to public health measures pushed us through the peak of the Omicron wave,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. Photo by Blair Gable/Reuters/File

The government will continue to carry out mandatory random COVID tests at airports for returning travellers, as a disease surveillance measure, but passengers will not have to self-quarantine while awaiting a result.

Njoo said this measure, combined with hospitalization data and sewage data, will help them keep tabs on any growth in COVID-19 cases.

Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault said now is the time for the tourism industry to get back to full steam.

“We did this because we know that the Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector also recovers and recovery is now within reach,” he said. .

Boissonnault argued that Canada’s approach to COVID will be a selling point for tourists who can travel with confidence here.

“With our high vaccination rates and focus on health and safety, Canada has a huge advantage in attracting visitors because they know it is safe to travel to Canada,” he said.

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