Canada Begins Requiring Negative COVID-19 Test For Arrivals

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**Update 12/30/20 @ 23:10 UTC – Canada’s airlines have responded to the announcement; details below.**

Passengers arriving into Canada by air will be required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test before arriving in the nation. The federal government announced this move today as part of its measures to deal with the pandemic.

WestJet Air Canada
Passengers flying into Canada will have to follow strict orders if they want to enter the country. Photo: Getty Images

Additional steps

CBC reports that passengers must undergo a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within a 72-hour period before boarding their flight. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said this policy will be in place shortly. However, he did not specify exactly when this measure will start.

During a public health briefing, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair shared that this policy does not take over from the federal government’s mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement. Moreover, the Canada Border Services Agency will also be ramping up its presence at Canadian airports.

Blair said the following, as reported by CBC:

“This is not an alternative to quarantine. It’s an additional layer. Additional border officers will be present at various positions to reinforce compliance messaging.”

Blair added that teams have already been sent to customs areas and inspection lines to speak to passengers about their obligations. Travelers will also be reminded of the implications of failing to follow the rules.

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Air Canada 787
Canadian carriers have been feeling the brunt of the ongoing and additional restrictions in place. Photo: Getty Images

A firm stance

In total, approximately 2% of all cases of the virus in the nation were brought in from overseas. Altogether, the federal government has advised against non-essential travel outside Canada since the beginning of the global health crisis.

Blair concluded with the following, as shared by Global News:

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“We strongly advise against travel unless absolutely necessary. If you must travel, understand that upon your return, you must follow guidelines and quarantine for 14 days. It’s not just the right thing to do — it’s the law. And if you don’t, it can result in serious consequences.”

Air Transat Airbus A330
Airlines will be hoping for better industry conditions in 2021. Photo: Getty Images

The challenges continue

As of today, Canada has reported 565,506 cases of the virus. The nation has also reported 6,442 new cases as concerns spread across Quebec, Ontario, and western Canada.

Canada has implemented strict policies when it comes to aviation amid the climate. There have been several restrictions in place since March. Moreover, it recently suspended all inbound commercial and private passenger flights from the United Kingdom until January 6th.

Carriers have had their operations massively impacted as a result. However, they have been trying their best to support in the dire situation. Perhaps, with consistent testing and quarantine measures in place together, outright flight bans may no longer be needed in 2021.

Simple Flying reached out to various Canadian carriers about these requirements.

A spokesperson from WestJet has shared the following:

“WestJet was not informed of nor consulted regarding changes to Canadian entrance requirements and eagerly awaits further details from the Government of Canada on COVID PCR testing. We reassure travellers that until more information is available, there is no change to current travel requirements for entrance to Canada. For more information please visit travel.gc.ca and westjet.com.”

Moreover, Simple Flying has since seen a joint statement by Canada’s airlines following the decision. The carriers say that the announcement was made without prior coordination with the industry, and there are many major operational and communication details still to be determined.

Nonetheless, the operators feel that this testing initiative must be utilized in conjunction with measures to reduce quarantine levels, as is being done in countries across the globe.

The statement shares the following:

“Canada’s major airlines have invested millions of dollars to protect the health and safety of our passengers and employees, and protect public health.  In conjunction with our airport partners, the industry has initiated various testing programs in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, sharing all data and testing protocols with federal officials.”

What are your thoughts about Canada’s testing requirements for those entering the country? How do you feel airlines will be impacted by these measures? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.

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