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

Summit Ski Hill had a delayed start to the season because of warm temperatures. Photo: Summit Ski Hill
Late season start frustrating for Nakusp ski hill

Summit Ski Hill only just opened Jan. 14

Four friends were heading to their home on Highway 6 just south of Silverton on the evening of Dec. 25, 2020, when the people in the front of the vehicle saw what looked like a “huge, man-like figure” on the side of the road. (Pixabay.com)
Possible Bigfoot sighting shocks, excites Silverton residents

‘I didn’t see the creature myself, I saw the prints’

A micro-cannabis cultivation facility was proposed for 1370 Forest Road. Photo: City of Castlegar
Castlegar neighbourhood celebrates after cannabis facility proposal withdrawn

A medical grade cannabis facility was proposed for Forest Road

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Andre Robert won $500,000 through a Lotto Extra ticket on Dec. 23, 2020. Photo: Jeanne d’Arc Allard
Creston resident wins $500k through Lotto ticket

“I was surprised. I wasn’t sure if it was true or not.”

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Purcell Wilderness Conservancy expanded with 18 hectares of previously privately-owned land. Photo from BC Parks.
Purcell Wilderness Conservancy expanded following Provincial land acquisition

18 hectares of waterfront added to critical wildlife habitat

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Most Read