The Government of Canada has added additional entry requirement barriers for arriving passengers, both foreign tourists and Canadians returning home from travel, due to fears of Omicron.
Now, all passengers, with exception to those coming from the United States, will have to undergo covid testing on arrival. This is in addition to the 72-hour pre-flight PCR testing and proof of vaccination that is already required.
The testing on arrival will be conducted at the airport of entry. Travelers are then required to ‘self-quarantine’ at home while they await the results of their test. Canada has always used the slower, more complicated, and more expensive PCR tests instead of quick rapid antigen, which means passengers could be waiting in isolation anywhere from 12-72 hours judging on historical result times.
This time around, the government of Canada’s decision to enact additional measures has not been met with as much support from both the public and private sectors as they have in the past, and many concerns have been voiced.
First off, the government of Canada removed the official “Do Not Travel” advisory on October 22, 2021, sparking many Canadians to confidently make travel plans. Now, many returning passengers are wondering what will happen if they have a connecting flight once inside Canada.
One concern is the test lines will be another massive delay to an already bottlenecked airport experience and there won’t be enough time to test and reach the next flight in time. Another concern is if passengers will even be able to test and board their connecting flight, or if they will have to self-isolate upon arrival at the first airport of entry.
Since the government of Canada has not restarted the hotel quarantine plan, it seems connecting passengers will be permitted to test upon arrival and then board their connecting flight, and then self-isolate once they’ve reached home.
Another critique of the new testing upon entry requirement is it does not apply to passengers flying or driving from the United States, which has been referred to numerous times as a ‘gaping hole’ in the additional measures.
More criticism about the heightened rules comes from the Canadian tourism industry itself. “This is indeed another blow as the Canadian tourism sector was slowly seeing more action,” said Frederic Dimanche, director of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University, Toronto. “This will of course lead to a significant decline in visitor arrivals. International visitors will not be willing to go through this.”
The new requirement for returning Canadians to self-isolate for 12-72 hours while waiting on test results will also force some travelers to cancel their trips. “I’ve been waiting patiently for almost 2 years to finally travel to Europe for Christmas to see my aging parents, but I work full time and cannot take off another 3 or 4 days to self-isolate when I return,” says Tess Baker, a hopeful traveler from Toronto. “I did everything that was asked of me. I got double vaccinated, I have my booster, I wear my mask, but now it feels like the return to normal that was promised is never going to happen.”
A third concern about the additional measures are that 6 cases of Omicron have already been found within Canada, and came from a country that wasn’t added to the travel ban list until a few days ago. On November 26, 2021, The Minister of Transportation Omar Alghabra and the Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, added 7 African countries to a travel ban list due to Omicron variant fears detected in those nations. However, Omicron made its way to Canada from Nigeria, a nation not originally on this list, but added days after it had already arrived in the country.
The most recent reports are actually showing that Omicron was originally discovered in The Netherlands and not in Southern Africa, yet the Netherlands has not been added to Canada’s travel ban list.
Returning Canadians and foreign arrivals (not coming from the United States, or the travel ban list) will now have to complete the following to enter Canada:
- Download and fill out the ArriveCan App
- Upload valid proof of vaccination to the app
- Perform a PCR test no longer than 72 hours before arrival
- Get tested a 2nd time upon arrival in Canada at the airport
- Agree to ‘self-quarantine’ until results are ready, which could be upwards of 72 hours
If passengers are coming from the USA, they can scratch the last two items off the list and enter by rules previous to yesterday’s update.
If Canadian citizens/residents are coming from countries on the travel ban list (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Nigeria, and Egypt) the requirements are intense. They will include getting a pre-flight PCR test from a third-party country, being tested on arrival, entering a 14-day quarantine (which may be in a designated quarantine facility), and being tested again on day 8.
The new rules are expected to last until at least January 31, 2022, when they will either be discontinued or renewed.
Canada Bans Travelers From Three More Countries Over Omicron Fears
21 Countries That Have Enacted New Travel Restrictions Due To Omicron
The U.S. Will Change Testing Requirements For All International Arrivals
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories