Canada is providing a temporary exemption to its third-country COVID-19 testing rule for travellers leaving South Africa after receiving criticism for the policy.
From Dec. 14 to Jan. 7, 2022, all travellers on indirect flights from South Africa to Canada will no longer have to provide a negative COVID-19 test from a third country, according to the Canadian government’s website.
Instead, travellers can use a test from an accredited laboratory within South Africa if it is done no more than 48 hours before departure. A positive test result can also be used if it was obtained at least 14 days, and no more than 180 days, before departing.
Travellers’ flights must also depart within 18 hours from the country of transit, according to the government.
Previously, those travelling from South Africa had to obtain a pre-departure negative COVID-19 molecular test in a third country, regardless of vaccination status.
The requirement also applies to nine other African countries but there is no indication the exemption will apply to them if travellers have been in those countries 14 days before heading to Canada.
The countries include Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
Global News reached out to Health Canada to see if the exemption will be extended to those countries but did not hear back by publication time.
Canada has been criticized for its travel restrictions since the Omicron variant was detected in South Africa and in countries around the world.
Earlier this week, Michael Embaie, the president of the African Community Association of Calgary, said that refusing to accept tests from South Africa was racist.
Embaie said that members of the community felt hurt.
They believe it’s important for the federal government to address what they say is subtle racism behind Canada’s new COVID-19 travel rules.
“You can’t treat one country different from another country. It looks like the colonial mentality hasn’t left.”
— With files from the Canadian Press