“All Trips, All Durations:” Ottawa Reinstates Testing Requirement, Drops Travel Ban on African Countries

Friday, the federal government announced it will once again require all travellers coming into Canada to present a negative COVID-19 test. The reinstated rules apply even to Canadians who are taking trips for less than 72 hours outside of the country. The requirement goes into effect on Tuesday, 21DEC.

“The requirements for pre-arrival testing will therefore be in place again for all trips of all durations,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in making the announcement.

Duclos also clarified that travellers seeking entry must obtain a test in a country other than Canada, reported CP24.  When the testing requirement had previously been in effect, the government permitted Canadians planning trips of less than 72 hours to be tested in Canada before leaving the country, providing the test was still valid when they presented themselves at the border for re-entry.

At the same time, Duclos said the federal government is lifting its flight ban on 10 African countries.

“While we recognize the controversial nature of such a prohibition, we believe it was a necessary measure to slow the arrival of Omicron in Canada and buy us some time,” said Duclos. “Given the current situation, this measure has served its purpose and is no longer needed.”

The initial flight ban was met with criticism from the travel industry as well as advocates. The ban covered flights from South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt.

The new border requirements come as federal government also  advised Canadians this week to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada for a period of four weeks.

The Minister of Health praised those cancelling travel plans. “We are aware of many Canadians who are listening and are cancelling their trips. These Canadians are leading by example and helping protect the health of their family, their community and themselves,” said Duclos.

Canada’s travel industry was “livid” over the travel advisory, with many also reporting a wave of cancellations. WestJet’s interim CEO Harry Taylor predicted the “unnecessary disruption and chaos” caused by the advisory would be “devastating to the continued economic recovery of the country and place tens of thousands of recently recalled Canadian travel and tourism jobs at risk.”

“Fully vaccinated Canadians should not be singled out for choosing to take part in a safe activity,” said Taylor when the government advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel this week.

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