In addition, Canada will no longer prohibit flights from ten African countries.
As part of its efforts to combat the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron strain, Canada is boosting testing requirements for overseas travellers and lifting a travel ban on flights from ten African countries.
Beginning Tuesday, all travellers returning to Canada will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test. The announcement by Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos reverses a recent exception that said fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who go abroad for less than 72 hours didn’t need to show confirmation of a negative test before returning home.
“As on Dec. 21, the necessity for pre-arrival testing for travels of any length will be in force again,” he said, adding that the exams must be taken outside of Canada.
According to Duclos, the government has increased capacity to test arrivals at Canadian airports, going from 11,000 tests per day on Nov. 30 to 20,960 tests as of Dec. 16, and aims to increase capacity at the land border as well.
The travel ban put on African countries will be lifted on Saturday.
The embargo on flights from ten African nations was lifted on Friday, a move that drew criticism for unnecessarily punishing countries when Omicron was already spreading in Canada. South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, and Egypt were all subject to the prohibition.
“While we appreciate the divisive nature of such a prohibition, we feel it was a necessary move to delay Omicron’s entrance in Canada and buy us some time,” Duclos said in his prepared remarks.
“In light of the current circumstances, this measure has served its function and is no longer required.”
The resumption of testing follows a warning issued earlier this week to avoid non-essential travel during the holidays as the strain spreads over the globe.
For the time being, the government has revised its official advice to advise Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside the nation.
Duclos congratulated individuals who had already cancelled trips and cautioned those who planned to go anyhow.
“We don’t want you to be trapped or sick in another country,” he stated.
“There is little the Canadian government can do to support you once you have left the country, once you are trapped, once you are sick.”
The Airports Council has urged the government to “move away from travel restrictions.”
The Canadian Airports Council released a statement this morning bemoaning the misunderstanding around airport testing and travel advisories, which is generating unnecessary stress.
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