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‘A huge, huge moment’: Toronto board of trade reacts as pre-arrival testing for travellers set to end

Click to play video: 'GTA travellers voice apprehension, delight over removal of COVID testing requirement' GTA travellers voice apprehension, delight over removal of COVID testing requirement
WATCH: GTA travellers voice apprehension, delight over removal of COVID testing requirement – Mar 16, 2022

Sources tell Global News that the Canadian government is expected to announce an end to pre-arrival COVID-19 testing for vaccinated travellers, a move a spokesperson for the Toronto Region Board of Trade calls a “huge moment” for the business community.

“From the beginning, the Board of Trade has been calling on government, when the health-care community is ready as well, to remove the excess barriers or restrictions that prevent the visitor economy in particular,” said Lindsay Broadhead, senior vice president of the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

Click to play video: 'Border cities ‘relieved,’ expecting increase in tourism with feds expected to drop pre-arrival testing' Border cities ‘relieved,’ expecting increase in tourism with feds expected to drop pre-arrival testing
Border cities ‘relieved,’ expecting increase in tourism with feds expected to drop pre-arrival testing – Mar 16, 2022

“On behalf of the business community, this is a huge, huge moment because it means the tap that was turned off in March 2020 has now immediately turned back on, and the visitor economy that sustains our economy and the Toronto region can thrive once again.”

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Read more: Canada poised to end pre-arrival COVID-19 testing for travellers: sources

The federal government is scheduled to provide an update on border measures Thursday morning. It’s expected that the testing requirement will be dropped by the end of March.

Currently, international travellers are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before their arrival to Canada. It can be a molecular test completed within 72 hours of a flight’s departure time or the traveller’s arrival to Canada by land or sea.

Travellers were also recently given the option of providing proof of a negative antigen test completed no more than one day before arrival to Canada.

If a person has tested positive for COVID-19 on a molecular test, proof of that test can also be used to enter the country no less than 10 days or more than 180 days before entering Canada.

Just last week, tourism and business groups held a press conference in Toronto calling for an end to the measure for vaccinated individuals, arguing that it is a barrier to travel that’s no longer necessary at this point in the pandemic.

Read more: Tourism, business groups call on Canada to lift COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated travellers

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Broadhead said with the measure poised to end, they expect a “very fast, steep curve of recovery.”

“Visitors are a massive economic driver in Ontario, where Toronto remains a prime destination for business travellers, international conferences and tourists,” Jan De Silva, president and CEO of the board, said in a statement.

“This announcement will help our region regain its competitive edge following pandemic-related restrictions, and it will be great news for many businesses across the Toronto-area. Removing this barrier will help re-establish our position as a welcoming place for both business and leisure visitors.”

When asked whether she thought the testing requirement should also be removed for unvaccinated travellers, Broadhead said the board continues to take guidance from health-care professionals.

She noted that there is a consensus in the health-care community in favour of vaccinations.

— With files from Twinkle Ghosh and Marc-Andre Cossette

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