Canada is easing border measures and travel restrictions at the end of the month.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced the changes at a press briefing in the nation’s capital on Tuesday afternoon.
As of February 28, the federal government is easing the on-arrival testing for fully-vaccinated travellers. They will now have the option of using a COVID-19 rapid antigen test result (taken the day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) or a molecular test result (taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) to meet pre-entry requirements.
“Taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement,” Duclos clarified.. “It must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service.”
Individuals arriving from any country, who qualify as fully vaccinated, will be also randomly selected for arrival testing. However those selected for testing will also no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting their test result.
“The return to mandatory random testing of all vaccinated travellers will facilitate travel for Canadians all while helping our public health authorities to detect future changes in COVID-19 importation rates and variants of concern,” Duclos noted.
Children under 12 years old, travelling with fully vaccinated adults, will continue to be exempt from quarantine, without any prescribed conditions limiting their activities. This means that they no longer need to wait 14 days before attending school, camp or daycare.
Unvaccinated travellers will continue to be required to test on arrival, on Day 8 and quarantine for 14 days. Unvaccinated foreign nationals, on the other hand, will not be permitted to enter Canada unless they meet one of the few exemptions.
To prove a previous COVID-19 infection, Canada will continue to only accept molecular test results, taken at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering the country.
All travellers, regardless of how long they were away from Canada, continue to be required to submit their mandatory information via ArriveCAN, including proof of vaccination in English or French and a quarantine plan prior to arriving in Canada.
International flights carrying passengers will also be permitted to land at all remaining Canadian airports that are designated by the Canada Border Services Agency to receive international passenger flights from February 28.
“Today’s announcements are a reflection of the progress we have made against this current Omicron variant,” said Duclos.
Canada is adjusting its Travel Health Notice from a Level 3 to a Level 2. This means that it will no longer recommend that Canadians avoid travel for non-essential purposes.
However federal officials pointed out that Canadians should understand the risks that are still associated with international travel given the high incidence of Omicron, and take necessary precautions.
“We must make smart and safe choices,” said Duclos. “As we have said all along, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, for potential future scenarios.”
Travellers are advised to consider the availability of medical services in a foreign country, and plan for the potential high costs associated with medical treatment and extending their trip, should they test positive for COVID-19 while abroad. They should also understand that there is a continued risk that border and travel measures in other countries, as well as in Canada, may change while they are abroad and should regularly review the entry requirements and exemptions for their travel situation.
“We will not hesitate to make necessary adjustments to keep Canadians and our transportation system safe,” added Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
“The measures we are announcing today are possible in part because Canadians have stepped up, rolled up their sleeves and gotten vaccinated,” Alghabra noted. “These measures will allow vaccinated Canadians to once again reunite with family and friends and reap the economic benefit that travel provides.”