The federal government is expected to announce today that it will soon end mandatory randomized arrival testing for inbound travelers at Canada’s airports, CBC News has learned — a move that comes as the US signals it will also ease some testing requirements. .
As a result, from Saturday, June 11, only unvaccinated travelers will be required to take a test when entering Canada, said a source with policy knowledge who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Until now, fully vaccinated travelers were randomly tested for COVID-19 upon arrival.
The policy change is being billed as a “pause” as random arrival tests are suspended between Saturday and June 30 – and the government can still bring it back.
Canada is one of the few western countries to have some form of arrival testing at this late stage of the pandemic.
Critics, including a number of public health experts, have said this type of testing regimen is not necessary now that there is widespread natural and vaccine-induced immunity to the virus.
They have called the policy a bureaucratic burden that has contributed to the already lengthy delays at airports, which struggle with clogged customs facilities.
The government has championed the arrival testing program as a way of tracking how many COVID-19 cases are slipping into the country. They have also said that the program can be used to detect new virus variants of concern.
The US, which has never undergone arrival testing, announced Friday that it will drop its pre-entry test requirement for air travel. From Sunday, passengers to the US will not be required to take a test before boarding a flight.
The government is also expected to announce that in the coming weeks arrival tests for unvaccinated travelers will be moved from the premises, meaning those travelers will no longer be forced to provide a sample for testing at the airport. This change means that airports can dismantle special test sites that have taken up space in the customs halls.
More to come …