Earlier this week, the Government of Canada announced that effective February 28, 2022, fully vaccinated Canadian travellers may return to Canada with a pre-arrival COVID-19 rapid antigen test instead of a pre-arrival COVID-19 molecular test such as a PCR test. As COVID-19 rapid antigen tests are cheaper, provide faster results, and are more readily available abroad, this change will make it easier for fully vaccinated Canadians to return home.
Beginning on February 28, 2022 at 12:01 EST, fully vaccinated Canadians may provide a negative pre-arrival COVID-19 rapid antigen test result taken no more than one day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border. Taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement – it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service. Positive rapid antigen test results will not be accepted.
Fully vaccinated Canadian travellers may continue to use negative COVID-19 molecular test results taken within 72 hours of their scheduled flight or land entry when returning to Canada. The Government of Canada will also continue to accept positive molecular test results from fully vaccinated Canadian travellers as long as they are not symptomatic and the result is taken at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada. Counting starts the day after your test.
The Government of Canada also announced that it will revise its random testing surveillance program at ports of entry to all vaccinated travellers. Fully vaccinated travellers who are selected at random for testing will no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting test results. Further, the Government of Canada also announced that it will lift its current advisory against all non-essential travel abroad.
While the CSA applauds this policy change as it will make it easier for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers to return home, we believe that the Government of Canada should remove all pre-arrival testing requirements for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers. In May 2021, the COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel recommended that the federal government eliminate pre-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada as travellers who have been vaccinated pose a lower risk of importation and transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Our position remains that the Government of Canada should adopt this recommendation from their own advisory panel immediately.
For a complete list of the current requirements for re-entry back into Canada, please see the following website, https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid. These requirements are subject to change and it is recommended that members review this site prior to their return to Canada.
COVID-19 testing locations in the United States can be found on the following website, https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/community-based-testing-sites/index.html.