Canada to drop COVID-19 tests for short trips: reports

Canada is reportedly set to announce big changes to its travel testing requirements, with some outlets saying the government will no longer require COVID-19 tests for some people returning to this country.

According to the CBC and La Presse, the federal government is set to announce Friday that the requirement for proof of a negative molecular test will no longer be needed for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents who return to this country from trips under 72 hours. The amended rules are set to come into effect at the end of the month.

The reports suggest the tests will still be required for international trips longer than 72 hours.

Canada urged to drop testing rules

The changes would come just ahead of the holiday season. Scrapping the testing requirement has been a demand from businesses and tourism groups on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, with many unable to take quick trips across the line because of what are often costly PCR tests needed for re-entry to Canada.

The U.S. has already dropped the testing requirement for travel into that country by land. It reopened its land border to non-essential travel by fully vaccinated Canadians on Nov. 8.

“If somebody coming into Canada can demonstrate that they’ve been doubly vaccinated, then they meet the criteria for being low-risk in Canada,” Perrin Beatty with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said earlier this month, seeing the testing requirement for those who have received a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine as a doubling up of precautions.

Related article: Canada urged to scrap testing requirements for travel days before U.S. border reopens

He and others have also noted the financial strain the testing places on families and other travellers.

While some people have been able to get tested for free in the U.S., most people have to pay for it. The cost of getting a PCR test in the U.S. for travel can vary, with prices rising into the hundreds of dollars for some.

The Trudeau government had been arguing that the testing requirements should stay in place for the time being, given fully vaccinated people can still spread COVID-19. That continues to pose a risk, especially for the millions of children who still can’t get vaccinated on this side of the border.

In October, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said there was still evidence some people coming into Canada are testing positive for COVID-19 — even though they had been fully vaccinated against the virus.

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