Canada Implements a New Air Travel Requirement

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To combat the spread of COVID-19 and new viral variants into Canada, the Canadian government has implemented an extra precaution impacting all air travelers entering the country.

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, issued an Interim Order formalizing new COVID-19 testing requirements for all air travelers entering Canada and providing additional guidance to airline operators and the traveling public on the new pre-departure testing requirement announced on December 31. This Interim Order complies with the COVID-19 health criteria established by the Minister of Health of Canada under the Quarantine Act.

Canada Implements a New Air Travel Requirement
Canada Implements a New Air Travel Requirement

Effective at 12:00 a.m. on January 7, 2021 (00:00 a.m. EST or 05:00 a.m. UCT), all travelers aged five years or older must show documentation of a negative laboratory test result for COVID-19 to the airline prior to boarding a trip to Canada, regardless of citizenship. The COVID-19 test must be administered using one of two methods–a molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP)–and must be completed within 72 hours of the traveler’s scheduled departure to Canada.

All visitors to Canada are required to show this information at the time of boarding. If you do not comply, the airline operating the aircraft to Canada will automatically deny you boarding.

Once tourists arrive in Canada, officials from Canada Border Services will interrogate and monitor them for any signs of illness. These passengers will be sent to authorities from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) for additional evaluation, screening, and questioning. Officers will scrutinize travelers’ quarantine arrangements in order to ensure their admissibility to Canada. PHAC collaborates closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and provincial law enforcement authorities to ensure that returning travelers are in compliance.

To begin, there are time-limited flexibility provisions for travelers traveling from certain countries, in acknowledgment of the need to test and adapt procedures. Travelers traveling from Saint Pierre and Miquelon are free from the obligation to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test until January 14, and those departing from Haiti are exempt until January 21, 2021, however they are strongly advised to obtain a COVID-19 test once in Canada. Until January 14, 2021, travelers traveling from the Caribbean or South America may utilize tests completed within 96 hours of departure (rather than 72 hours).

Travelers planning flights to Canada are strongly advised to read this material carefully in order to comply with the criteria and avoid being denied boarding by the airline.

Unless exempted under the Quarantine Act, anybody who obtains a negative test result and is permitted to enter Canada must still complete the entire, obligatory 14-day quarantine. Travelers are advised that they must maintain vigilant at all times. Along with completing their quarantine period completely, returning travelers must monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and report them online via ArriveCAN. If visitors have symptoms, however minor, or obtain a positive COVID-19 test while in Canada, they are encouraged to notify local public health authorities.

All current limitations on foreign citizens traveling to Canada from the United States and other nations remain in effect. Canada’s government is committed to enforcing and strengthening such restrictions as necessary and as the global situation changes.

“Pre-departure testing adds another layer of safety to the already robust safeguards in place, such as the obligatory 14-day quarantine period. We continue to advise Canadians to avoid unnecessary travel. Remain in Canada and follow public health recommendations to safeguard your health, the health of your family, and the health of your community. This way, we can all work together to save lives “The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, stated.