Canada to ease travel requirements as COVID cases decline

Canada to ease travel requirements as COVID cases decline

A passenger bound for the United States walks through Terminal 3 at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, days before new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing protocols take effect for entering the United States , in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on December 3, 2021. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

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OTTAWA, Feb 15 (Reuters) – Canada will facilitate entry for fully vaccinated international travelers from Feb. 28 as COVID-19 cases decline, allowing rapid antigen testing for travelers instead of molecular testing, officials announced on Tuesday.

Antigen tests are cheaper than a molecular test and can provide results in minutes.

The new measures, which include random testing for vaccinated travelers entering Canada, were announced by federal government ministers at a briefing.

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Canada will monitor conditions with a view to dropping coronavirus testing requirements for fully vaccinated Canadians taking short trips – less than 72 hours – abroad, typically to the United States, health minister says , Jean-Yves Duclos.

“These changes are possible not just because we’ve passed Omicron’s peak, but because Canadians across the country have listened to science and experts,” Duclos told reporters.

About 80% of Canadians are fully immunized and more than 40% have also taken a booster dose, according to the Department of Health.

The global travel advisory for Canadians is also amended. Previously, the government advised against all non-essential travel, and now it is only urging citizens to take precautions.

“While today’s announcement brings us one step closer to where our industry needs to be, by requiring rapid antigen testing before departure, the government has missed an opportunity to align with other international jurisdictions. which removed pre-departure testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers,” the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable industry group said in a statement.

Suzanne Acton-Gervais, Acting President of the National Airlines Council of Canada, said: “Today’s announcement by the federal government is a step forward for travellers, our industry and the economy. Canadian, which is based on trade and tourism.

Several provinces, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and on Monday Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, announced an easing of restrictions imposed during the pandemic as coronavirus infection rates plummet.

Ontario said it would accelerate its plan to scrap vaccination proof requirements and lift pandemic-related capacity limits for many businesses, while the western province of Alberta ended Monday its mask requirements for schoolchildren. Read more

Protesters have blocked border crossings and paralyzed central Ottawa for weeks demanding governments roll back pandemic restrictions. read more Provincial premiers have denied easing restrictions to appease them, instead saying limits are no longer needed to contain COVID-19.

(This story has been refiled to correct the third paragraph to show that short trips without testing are being considered, not that testing requirements are being removed)

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Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa, Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Allison Lampert in Montreal; edited by Grant McCool and Jane Merriman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.