Canada removes covid test requirements for travelers

Starting on Nov. 30, fully vaccinated Canadians taking short trips abroad will no longer need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to return home, Ottawa confirmed at a news conference Friday.

The federal government said the test exemption will apply to fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents, as well as accompanying unvaccinated children under the age of 12, who depart and re-enter Canada within 72 hours. The rule will also apply to those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons.

Despite the test exemption, unvaccinated children still won’t be able to attend school, daycare or crowded settings for 14 days after returning to Canada.

For now, Canadians returning from longer trips and foreign travellers entering Canada will still have to show proof of a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of their departing flight or planned arrival at the land border.

The government said travellers taking shorter trips carry less risk.

“If a Canadian wanted to go across for a quick shopping trip in the U.S., maybe get some cheap gas or whatever … the actual risk for themselves, as well as obviously when they come back to Canada, is pretty minimal,” said Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that at this time, Canada isn’t extending the test exemption to American travellers taking short trips for logistical reasons. She said Canada can track the amount of time Canadians spend abroad, but can’t do the same for Americans.

‘If an American traveller comes into Canada, I believe they have a right to stay for six months, for example,” she said, noting there is no way to know how long they would actually stay within that timeframe.

However, the government said it will be reviewing entry requirements for American travellers.

“We’re taking a phased approach to the easing of border measures,” said Tam.

The government also announced it will expand its list of accepted vaccines for travellers.

Currently, Ottawa only recognizes Health Canada approved vaccines including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. But starting Nov. 30, Canada will recognize as fully vaccinated those who were inoculated with World Health Organization approved vaccines Sinopharm, Sinovac and COVAXIN.

The government also said that starting on Jan. 15, certain groups of travellers who are currently exempt from certain entry requirements will only be allowed to enter Canada if they are fully vaccinated.

Those groups include individuals reuniting with family, international students, professional athletes, temporary foreign workers and essential service workers including truck drivers.

“With more Canadians getting vaccinated every day, we can move forward cautiously toward a more open border economy and society,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. “At the same time, we can’t let our guard down.”

The government’s announcement that it will drop the test requirement for Canadians taking short trips follows weeks of lobbying from politicians, the tourism industry, seniors and business groups for Ottawa to drop the requirement for all vaccinated travellers.

Molecular tests — such as the popular PCR test — can range from $150 to $300, making travelling abroad cost prohibitive for some people.

Sometimes travellers can get free tests in the U.S., but they aren’t available in all parts of the country, and might not provide results within a traveller’s time frame.–Online source

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