Canada Resumes Random COVID Testing for Vaccinated Travelers

Testing was paused last month as the process moved to off-airport locations to relieve congestion

Health officials in Canada have restarted mandatory random COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated travelers arriving by air. Testing was paused last month as the testing process was moved to off-airport locations in an effort to relieve congestion inside terminals.

Fully vaccinated travelers will be selected at random and notified via e-mail within 15 minutes of clearing customs at the country’s four main airports, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, and Toronto.

The e-mail will contain information about where and when to get tested. The test, which is free, will be conducted either in-person at select testing provider locations and pharmacies, or via a virtual appointment for a self-swab test.

According to the government website, travelers are not required to quarantine while awaiting test results, and can take public transportation, including connecting flights.

However, if a traveler’s arrival test result is positive—regardless of vaccination status—they must follow the federal requirement to isolate for 10 days from the date of the test result.

Health officials estimate about 5 percent of fully vaccinated passengers will be randomly selected for testing.

To be considered fully vaccinated, the traveler will have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine accepted for travel, a mix of two accepted vaccines or at least one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The most recent dose must have been administered within 14 days of travel.

Travelers must complete the information on the mandatory ArriveCAN app within 72 hours prior to arrival to qualify for the fully-vaccinated exemption. Those who do not submit the information may be subject to the 14-day quarantine and Day-8 COVID testing.

The same rules apply to all arriving passengers who are not considered fully vaccinated. There are no changes to arrival testing at land borders.

“Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence,” said Jean Yves Duclos, minister of health. “We will keep adapting our border measures to balance the need to protect Canadians while supporting our economic recovery.”

The travel industry criticized the Canadian government’s decision to resume the random tests. “While governments across the globe are rolling back restrictions, the government of Canada is reinstating them,” said Peter Cerda, the International Air Transport Association’s VP for the Americas, in a statement.

“Rather than enabling travel and tourism to recover, those in power in Canada believe that throwing more red tape at the pandemic is the way forward,” Cerda added. “Canada has become a total outlier in managing COVID-19 and travel.”

Currently, Canada is experiencing an average of about 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day, with fewer than 0.1 percent considered in the serious or critical category, according to data website Worldometer.

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