A passenger walks the halls at Montreal Trudeau Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A passenger walks the halls at Montreal Trudeau Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

As U.K. travel ban lifts, new pre-flight COVID-19 test rules will come into effect in Canada

Test must be taken pre-flight, within 72 hours of boarding a flight to Canada

Flight crews will be one of the few exempt from a new pre-flight COVID-19 test required for all incoming air travellers as of Thursday (Jan. 7), the day the ban against travel from the U.K. will lapse.

Federal ministers began to unveil details of the plan, first announced Dec. 30, in a press conference Wednesday (Jan. 6).

According to Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, the rules will apply to all incoming non-essential air travellers, including Canadians and foreign nationals, who are five years of age or older. The test must be a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that is taken within 72 hours of boarding a flight to Canada.

According to Transport Canada, the test must be conducted by a lab accredited by an external organization such as a government, a professional association or ISO accreditation. Incoming travellers can be refused boarding by an airline if they don’t have electronic or written proof of an approved test. Vaccinated travellers must still get a test, Garneau said, because the science is still unclear on whether a vaccinated person can still spread the virus.

Travellers from Saint Pierre et Miquelon are exempt until Jan. 14 and those from Haiti are exempt until Jan. 21 due to lack of testing capacity.

Travellers from the following countries can take a test up to 96 hours, not 72 hours, prior to boarding their flight until Jan. 14 because of scarce testing capacity:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Bonaire, Saint Eustatius & Saba
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Curacao
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • St. Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and Grenadines
  • Saint Maarten
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

Travellers will also be subject to other health screening measures, both before they board their flights and when they arrive, including having to provide a quarantine plan and getting their temperature taken. All non-essential travellers must still quarantine for 14 days, regardless of test results. Travellers coming from countries where approved PCR testing is not available will have to report to an official Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine facility.

“We strongly, strongly, strongly recommend to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada,” Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said.

Groups that are exempt include flight crew or people coming to Canada to become flight crew and emergency service providers. People coming from countries where it is difficult to obtain a test may taken one up to 96 hours prior to boarding a flight to Canada.

While federal ministers said they cannot stop people from travelling altogether, they warned that the government will not be running any more repatriation flights as it did at the start of the pandemic. Travellers must pay for their own COVID tests and it is unlikely the government will cover any costs to do with the virus and non-essential travel outside the country.

The International Air Transport Association, the trade association for the world’s airlines, expressed “deep frustration” with the new rules. The association said the airline industry has been calling for pre-flight testing for months to re-open borders and cease quarantine measures, it said it was “callous and impractical to impose this new requirement on travellers at such short notice.”

However, Garneau said that the federal government has been in touch with airlines over the past week to work out the details.

“We are confident that they will rise to the occasion,” he said.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Air TravelCoronavirustravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

The BC CDC data for Jan. 3-9. (BC CDC Photo)
Golden adds 7 cases in first week of 2021; BC CDC

The numbers are down from 14 the week before

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

A juvenile sturgeon in a B.C. rearing facility. The wild population in the Upper Columbia is estimated at 1,100 individuals, enhanced with roughly 5,500 hatchery fish. (file photo)
B.C.’s Upper Columbia sturgeon endure long battle with local extinction

Decades of monitoring and intervention is ongoing to save the prehistoric fish

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun in Salmon Arm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccinations underway in Salmon Arm

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun

This is the location, 3240 Skaha Lake Road, of where BC Housing plans to build a four storey supportive housing project for the homeless and at risk of being homeless. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton mayor and MLA concerned about new BC Housing project

‘Penticton already has its fair share’ of BC Housing projects

Interior Health declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long term care home over Monday, Jan. 18, 2020. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place care home declared over

‘This has been one of our most challenging outbreaks so far,’ says chief medical health officer

Penticton Bylaw officer Glenn Smith, as well as resident Zak Laycock (not pictured), received the Governor General Award from the Royal Canadian Humane Association to recognize their heroism in a summer 2019 incident. (Contributed)
Bylaw officer and Penticton resident given awards for intervening in sexual assault

Bylaw officer Glenn Smith said he was simply in the right place at the right time

Sunnybank
COVID-19 related deaths at Oliver, West Kelowna and Vernon senior care homes

Sunnybank, Heritage Retirement Residence and Noric House recorded deaths over the weekend

Hillview Elementary students Emma Li and Mina Nadeau were awarded by the Premier’s office for winning the annual holiday card contest. (Karen Rogers photo)
North Okanagan students’ art featured on Premier’s cards

Hillview youth chosen for annual holiday card contest

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Most Read