Vaccinated travellers entering Canada no longer need a pre-entry COVID-19 test.
The change to the rules previously requiring any traveller, regardless of vaccination status, to provide a negative PCR or rapid test upon entry into Canada took effect April 1.
However, Health Canada will still require anyone arriving from outside the country to wear a mask in public settings for at least two weeks, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The rules for unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated Canadians and other travellers who are exempt from the vaccine requirement remain unchanged. They would still need to provide a negative test, or evidence that enough time has passed after an infection, to enter the country.
There could still be mandatory, random PCR testing at airports for all travellers, irrespective of vaccination status, but selected passengers would not be required to isolate while awaiting results, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) told Global News in an emailed statement.
Whether you’re flying or crossing at the land border, you’d also still have to fill out the ArriveCAN App. “This applies to all travellers entering Canada, regardless of the length of their trip,” the CBSA statement said.
Travellers would still be asked to upload their contact information, travel details and vaccination information on ArriveCan — everything barring the negative COVID-19 test if they are fully vaccinated, according to Lisa White, director, Central Alberta District for Canada Border Services Agency.
“If you don’t complete it (ArriveCan documentation), you could be subject to the full quarantine period of 14 days,” White said.
“That’s why we’re impressing upon folks the importance of having that completed” before they get to Canada, White said.
“It’s very simple. It’s very fast,” said White. “And it just makes your return to Canada that much more smoother and you’re avoiding that potential for quarantine as well.”
Ever since Canada announced the change two weeks ago, travel groups say they’ve seen a surge in travel bookings and inquiries.
“It’s a really positive step,” said Richard Vanderlubbe, president of Tripcentral.ca.
Other than the added cost and hassle of taking a test before boarding a plane, travellers don’t have to worry about being stranded in a foreign country and extending their stay if they test positive for COVID-19 while abroad, Vanderlubbe said.
“It’s a big blocker for travel demand that’s gone now and we’ve seen continuing rise in bookings and inquiries since then,” Vanderlubbe told Global News.
Martin Firestone, a travel insurance broker in Toronto, said the lifting of the testing requirement combined with easing of public health measures announced in recent weeks is going to have a “huge effect on travel.”
He said insurance sales for the month of March were already higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
“The bottom line is to all those travelling after April 1, now it’s a relief to not have to get tested to come back into the country,” Firestone told Global News.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable also issued a statement after the initial announcement, lauding the government’s decision.
“This positive development will bring Canada into better alignment with other major countries, is a recognition that the Canadian travel and tourism industry has long been among the country’s safest, and brings the industry closer to a return to normal,” the group said.
— with files from Global News’ Saba Aziz, Tomasia DaSilva and The Canadian Press