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

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims two more lives of Sunnybank Retirement Centre residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Okanagan Clinical Trials is looking at gut bacteria as a way of slowing down the development of Alzheimer’s. (Alzheimer Society of B.C. photo)
Okanagan study looking for volunteers of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

The study is looking at how gut bacteria may help slow the disease

Penticton City Hall. (File photo)
City of Penticton seeking grants to fund public washroom improvements

The grant would fund washrooms at Gyro Park and Riverside Park

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Kevin Lee Barrett pleaded guilty to the aggravated assault of his mother Eleanor Holmes on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (File)
West Kelowna man who beat his mom could be sentenced up to 9 years

Kevin Barrett entered a surprise guilty plea to the lesser charge of aggravated assault on Tuesday morning

Vernon now has an approved 13 cannabis shops in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Vernon, the ‘Pot capital of B.C.’ greenlights two new stores downtown

Two more shops, within 240 metres, approved, despite neighbouring businesses opposition

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Two fibreglass bees were stolen from Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farm Nov. 22, 2020. (Facebook)
Stolen bee returned to Vernon honey farm

Two months after thieves buzzed off with two bee sculptures, public tips led police one of them

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read