Feds expected to announce an end to random arrival testing at Canada’s airports


The federal government is expected to announce today it will soon end the mandatory randomized arrival testing for incoming travellers at Canada’s airports, CBC News has learned.

As a result, starting as soon as Saturday, June 11, only unvaccinated travellers will be required to take a test upon entry into Canada, said a source with knowledge of the policy who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Up to now, fully vaccinated travellers were being subjected to random COVID-19 testing upon arrival.

The policy change is being billed as a “pause” because random arrival testing will be suspended between Saturday and June 30 — and the government could still bring it back.

Canada is one of the few Western countries that has some form of arrival testing at this late stage of the pandemic.

Critics, including a number of public health experts, have said that this sort of testing regime is unnecessary now that there is widespread natural and vaccine-induced immunity to the virus.

They’ve called the policy a bureaucratic burden that has added to already lengthy delays at airports, which are grappling with clogged customs facilities.

The government has defended the arrival testing program as way to track how many COVID-19 cases are slipping into the country. They’ve also said the program could be used to detect new virus variants of concern.

The U.S., which has never had arrival testing, announced Friday it will drop its pre-entry testing requirement for air travel. As of Sunday, U.S.-bound passengers won’t have to get a test before boarding a flight.

The government is also expected to announce that, in the coming weeks, arrival testing for unvaccinated travellers will be moved off-site — meaning those travellers will no longer be forced to give a sample for a test at the airport. This change will mean airports can dismantle dedicated testing sites that have taken up space in the customs halls.

More to come …

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