s of Nov. 30th fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who leave the country for under 72 hours will no longer need to demonstrate negative PCR test results for COVID-19 to return to Canada.
Previously, all Canadian residents traveling abroad had to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of returning to Canada, regardless of their vaccination status. PCR tests are often costly, ranging from $150 to $300 for analysis. The test results can take up to 48 hours to be delivered and can be difficult to access due to high demand and unavailability of testing services.
“The upcoming changes to Canada’s border testing and entry requirements reflect the next stage in our government’s approach as we align with the improving vaccination rates both here in Canada and around the world,” – Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos
In contrast, in the U.S., rapid antigen tests are permitted to use by vaccinated air travellers entering the country as proof of being negative for COVID-19. Such tests, which costs as little as $20 and provide quick results, are typically more convenient for travellers.
According to the National Post, the Canadian government has faced pressure from both American and Canadian officials and travellers to eliminate the requirement to demonstrate negative COVID-19 PCR results for fully vaccinated Canadians for cross-border trips.
“It’s time for us to apply common sense. Pull the PCR test, it is redundant,” said Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “We’re the outlier, and other countries don’t use it. At the end of the day, the focus needs to be on whether or not we’re vaccinated, not on having to take expensive tests.”
U.S. congressman Brian Higgins has also recently urged the Canadian and U.S. federal governments to implement consistent regulations for travellers on both sides of the border. Rapid testing for COVID is the direction the government is seeing makes the most sense for cost, availability and ease of use.
“The fractured approach to border management by both the U.S. and Canadian governments is contributing to public confusion, anger and frankly, it makes no sense,” said Higgins in a media statement. Higgins was one of members of the House of Representatives who met with Justin Trudeau to discuss this issue earlier in November.
Higgins said that eliminating COVID-19 testing requirements for Canadians and permanent residents traveling for fewer than 72 hours is the first phase of the plan to reduce testing measures at the border. In addition, he added that there will be changes to testing requirements for U.S. citizens and other travellers.
“The mandatory pre-departure PCR test for fully vaccinated travellers is not rooted in science and should be removed,” said former foreign affairs minister John Manley in a written statement.