Canada to end pre-arrival testing requirement

The federal government has said that Canada will end its pre-entry COVID-19 testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers from April 1.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced the latest changes to border measures Thursday morning.

Random PCR testing of arrivals will continue as a means of tracking the emergence of new COVID-19 variants.

All visitors must be fully vaccinated and everyone entering Canada will continue to enter their information on ArriveCAN.

The pandemic-battered travel and tourism industry welcomed the move which they believe should have come sooner.

Currently, travellers entering the country must show proof of a negative antigen or molecular test prior to their flight or arrival at the border. Foreign students have found this to be an extra expense.

Canada’s change in border policy comes amid a rise in global travel. Many countries are easing COVID-19 restrictions and opening their borders to tourists and visitors. The United Kingdom, for instance, has lifted all restrictions for arriving travellers irrespective of their vaccination status from today.

Many Canadian provinces and territories, including Ontario, are also ending several restrictions including vaccine passports and mask mandates.

When asked whether “fully vaccinated” now meant having had a third dose or booster, Duclos said that the definition had not changed. This means a person who has taken two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada at least 14 days prior to travel is considered to be fully immunized.

As for the lifting of masking requirements on planes and trains, federal officials said they are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation around the world. The BA.2 subvariant (dubbed stealth Omicron) has led to a significant rise in coronavirus cases and has become the dominant virus in at least 10 countries, including Bangladesh, China, Denmark, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Masks are still seen as an important line of defense in preventing infections. Federal officials are urging Canadians to continue wearing them in crowded spaces and especially indoors.

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