Border Restrictions – A Step in the Right Direction
What will change:
- Scrapping the mandatory PCR testing for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada. Travellers will now have the option of completing a rapid COVID-19 rapid antigen test, taken one day prior to travel to their scheduled travel to Canada administered by a third party such as laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service. A rapid antigen test conducted at home using a kit will not be accepted.
- While randomized testing upon arrival into Canada will remain in effect, travellers will no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting their test results.
- Unvaccinated children under the age of 12, travelling with fully vaccinated foreign nationals will no longer be required to wait for 14 days after they have travelled to Canada to be able to attend school or daycare.
- International flights will now be permitted to land at all Canadian airports that have the ability to receive international passengers.
- Finally, as part of this announcement, the Government is also lifting the non-essential travel advisory for Canadians.
What will not change:
- Unvaccinated foreign nationals, who do not meet one of the exemptions, will continue to be prohibited from entering Canada.
- The testing requirements for unvaccinated eligible travellers will continue, i.e.: they will be required to undergo a test on the day of their arrival; Day 8 and will need to quarantine for 14 days.
The announcement today is definitely a step in the right direction, as the Canadian Government appears to be harmonizing its entry requirements with that of the U.S. Similar to the U.S., fully vaccinated travellers now have the option to take a rapid antigen test for entry to Canada. However, unlike the U.S., where a COVID-19 test is not required for entry to the U.S. by land, Canada continues to require a COVID-19 pre-entry test for land border entries as well.
Further, in today’s announcement there was no mention to bring back the pre-entry testing exemption for Canadians for short trips to the U.S. for 72 hours or less. This exemption was especially beneficial for cross-border business travellers. This exemption had come into effect on November 30 but ended on December 21, 2021, as cases of COVID-19 were rising due to the Omicron variant.
Despite several border restrictions that will continue to remain in effect, overall today’s announcement is extremely positive. In particular, business travellers will benefit from the option of a rapid antigen test. These individuals have been struggling to manage the timing of the PCR test and ensuring that the test was completed within the specified timeframe and not too far in advance, so that they are able to-enter Canada. With short trips specifically, the ability for these travellers to meet this requirement has also been very challenging. With the rapid antigen test option, one can hope that some of these logistical challenges will be alleviated.
If you would like to meet with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals to discuss your specific circumstances and potential strategies, we are happy to advise. Our legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org