Canada’s testing requirement for travelers gone, but other hurdles remain

A heavy and costly burden has been lifted for fully vaccinated travelers: since Friday, they no longer need to take a COVID-19 test to enter Canada.

“It was about time,” Emil Kamel said Friday at Toronto’s Pearson airport en route to Egypt.

“Having to find a PCR test in a foreign country can get quite expensive and inconvenient,” he said. “We appreciate being able to come home and not worry about these things.”

However, the pandemic is not over and there are other things travelers may have to worry about, such as testing requirements to enter other countries and the threat of another wave of COVID- 19.

Here’s what to keep in mind when planning your vacation.

Traveler Emil Kamel says he is happy not to have to take a COVID-19 test when he returns from Egypt. (Mark Bochsler/CBC)

Some rules remain

Vaccinated travelers may not be fully cleared for the testing requirement if they are traveling with unvaccinated children. It’s because unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people more than four years You still need to show proof a negative antigenic or molecular test to enter Canada.

And all travelers – vaccinated or not – should still submit their travel information using the ArriveCAN App or by online registration within 72 hours of arriving in Canada.

Although they no longer need to worry about taking a pre-entry test, vaccinated travelers can be randomly selected to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival.

“The good news for those who are randomly selected is that there is no need to self-quarantine while you wait for your results,” said Darryl Dalton, chief of operations at the Agency’s Pearson airport. Canadian border services.

The bad news is that those who test positive must comply with federal rules and isolate for 10 days — even if they are in a province that has reduced the isolation period to five days for people infected with COVID-19.

Some countries still want a test

Vaccinated Canadians will still need to book — and pay for — a COVID-19 test if visiting a country that requires one upon entry.

Popular destinations such as Mexico, The Dominican Republic and The United Kingdom do not have COVID-19 entry restrictions for Canadians, but many other hotspots, such as Jamaica and United States (while traveling by air) require proof of a negative antigenic or molecular test.

“I suggest travelers do their due diligence and research where they’re going, to see what the requirements are,” Dalton said.

Seema Shirali of Markham, Ont., says she’s surprised the United States hasn’t dropped its COVID-19 testing requirement for travellers. (Submitted by Seema Shirali)

Seema Shirali from Markham, Ontario has a daughter in New York. She says she is disappointed – and surprised – that the United States has not followed Canada’s lead and dropped the pre-arrival testing requirement for international air passengers.

“Canada has always been strict,” with COVID-19 restrictions, she said. “[The U.S.] opened long before us and yet they have this test, which seems really weird to me.”

US Airlines and other travel industry groups lobbied the Biden administration to drop the testing requirement, but the government has given no indication it plans to scrap the rule.

Another wave of COVID-19?

On the same day, Canada dropped its testing requirement for travelers, federal health officials noted they predict an increase in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, driven by the infectious Omicron BA.2 subvariant.

“Don’t just think it’s over,” Dr. Teresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at a news conference on Friday. “There will probably be more bumps along the way.”

Quebec and Ontario are already entering a sixth wave as infections rise in both provinces. The number of cases is also rising in Europe and China.

So what does this mean for people planning a trip?

Toronto emergency physician Dr. Kashif Pirzada advises Canadians not to move.

“I don’t think it’s the right time to travel,” he said. “Now is the time to batten down the hatches, put on your shields and be careful.”

However, he said we should soon see another lull in cases.

“Once this wave passes, everything will be fine again – until another variation comes.”

WATCH | Concerns are mounting amid the arrival of the 6th wave:

Concern over the hands-off approach of the 6th wave in Canada

Ontario and Quebec are entering a sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, raising concerns that governments aren’t doing enough on restrictions to curb rising case numbers. 2:02

A rise in cases could also mean a return to stricter travel rules. When the government announced last month it was scrapping the testing requirement, it warned nothing was set in stone.

“All measures are subject to review,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. “We will continue to adjust them as the epidemiological situation here in Canada and abroad evolves.”

Ottawa previously flip-flop on test rule last fall, when it dropped the requirement for those making short trips to the United States, but reintroduced it less than three weeks later when Omicron arrived.

Travel insurance

People can get travel insurance to cover costs if they become ill with COVID-19 while traveling. Most providers also offer coverage if people test positive and have to delay or cancel their trip, said Will McAleer, chief executive of the Travel Insurance Association of Canada.

But he warns travelers are unlikely to get cover if they forgo their trip because they worry about rising COVID-19 cases.

“They won’t be able to undo [and get reimbursed] just because they’re a bit scared there might be more cases at the destination than they thought when they booked it,” he said.

“If you change your mind you don’t want to go anymore, it’s not something that’s part of a typical policy.”

However, McAleer said, if Canada were to suddenly reinstate its warning against non-essential travel abroad, insured travelers could cancel their trip and get reimbursed – if the warning was still in effect at the time of their planned trip. .