Canadian government to reinstate mandatory random COVID-19 testing for flyers

The Canadian government is reinstating mandatory testing for air travelers in an unexpected move that will affect both domestic travelers and visitors to the country.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said Thursday that after suspending mandatory random testing for those entering Canada by air on June 11, testing would resume from July 19 for travelers who qualify as fully vaccinated and arrive in Canada by air to the four major Canadian airports. : Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto.

With congestion at airports a pressing issue, the government has said all testing for air travelers will be done outside of airports, either by in-person appointment at testing locations and pharmacies or by appointment. go virtual for a self-swab test.

“As we have always said, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence. We must keep border testing measures in place, as this is how we track the importation of the COVID-19 virus and new variants of We will continue to adapt our border measures to balance the need to protect Canadians while by supporting our economic recovery, ”said Jean-Yves Duclos, the Minister of Health, in a press release.

Tourism officials have pushed the government to scrap the ArriveCan app, which requires travelers to complete an online questionnaire before entering the country, and have been caught off guard by the new tightening of borders.

“It defies all logic,” Lyle Hall, a longtime tourism industry veteran, said in an interview. “There are Canadians coming home [from abroad], but, wearing my tourist cap, what tourist will want to pass by? It’s crazy.”

Air travelers who qualify as fully vaccinated and selected for mandatory random testing and travelers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated will receive an email notification within 15 minutes of completing their customs declaration. A positive result will require 10 days of isolation.

The government also reaffirmed that all travelers must continue to use ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel information within 72 hours of arriving in Canada. Ottawa said 95% of travelers arriving by land and air combined comply.

“It came completely out of nowhere,” Hall said. The various officials of the Ministry of Tourism of the national and provincial associations are hammering the table to get rid of ArriveCan. Getting Americans across the border, even by car, is a challenge because it’s difficult to figure out how to navigate the programs. “And now you add that layer.”

Melissa Lantsman, MP for the opposition Conservative Party of Canada, denounced the change on Twitter.

“There was no shared science for testing fully vaccinated air travelers at airports. There was no shared science for suspending testing. There was no shared science for reinstating mandatory random offsite testing. airports for air travellers,” Lantsman said.

Laura Baxter, director of hospitality analytics in Canada for CoStar, said the resumption of random testing requirements will add to the confusion about whether Canada’s travel economy is open for business or not.

“It will only have a negative impact on inbound international travel, which was only beginning to rebound,” Baxter said. “Inbound travel from the United States is only 48% of 2019 levels, so there is a huge opportunity for hoteliers to benefit from more international visits. With more hassle crossing the border, international travelers entrants may choose to go elsewhere. Unfortunately, the impact will be felt in our major urban centers, which have only recently seen improved performance metrics.”