Exciting travel news!
On Tuesday, February 15th, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that they will adjust the Travel Health Notice from a Level 3 to a Level 2 on February 28th. This means that the Government will no longer recommend that Canadians avoid travel for non-essential reasons.
Furthermore, they're making it easier to travel to the countries we work with - A PCR test is no longer required to arrive in Canada, rather an Antigen test administered correctly will be sufficient for pre-entry.
Beginning on February 28, 2022 at 12:01am Eastern Time, fully vaccinated travellers will have the option of showing a negative antigen test taken within one day prior to their scheduled direct flight or arrival at the land border in order to enter Canada.
Antigen tests return results in 15 minutes
or less, are much cheaper than PCR tests, and are offered at a wider range of labs.
Any antigen test that you can administer via telehealth can be used for entry the day before departure.
Randomized Arrival Testing
As of February 28, on-arrival tests for fully vaccinated travellers will now be randomized. You are no longer required to quarantine while awaiting test results for any tests conducted on-arrival - only a small selection of travellers will have to be tested at the border when arriving from an international flight.
Prior to arriving in Canada, we still have to make sure to fill out the ArriveCAN app - but this is an easy enough process.
A Downgrade in the Travel Advisory
On Feb 28th, Canada's Travel Advisory will no longer be recommending against non-essential travel.
This means standard emergency medical insurance coverage is valid again, but, it may still be worth considering additional COVID-19 travel insurance that includes quarantine costs should you test positive prior to returning to the country.
A Major Leap Forward in Canada’s Travel Restrictions
We've been watching a cyclical pattern of travel restrictions coming and going with the introduction and then waning of different COVID-19 variants. It’s incredibly encouraging to see our travel restrictions changing again in a positive direction, and we expect these sets of changes to stick around, unlike the temporary exemptions of the past.
While antigen tests may be less accurate than molecular tests, they are still very sensitive to high viral loads and offer a reasonable compromise in convenience and affordability.
And while it sounds like this change in testing requirement makes our borders more vulnerable, the positivity rate at the border has seen a high of only 1.3% the entire time that on-arrival testing has been in place.
The easing of pre-arrival testing requirements represents a major step towards living with COVID-19 and recognizing it as an endemic and something we have to tolerate long-term, rather than spending an enormous amount of resources preventing its importation.
Finally, despite the positive news, keep in mind is that the travel requirements of your airline can still differ from those at your destination.
For example, Etihad Airways requires every person travelling with them to have a molecular test result from the past 72-48 hours depending on your circumstance, even if your destination does not require one.
The coming of Spring brings a hopeful yearning that the easing of our travel restrictions will prove more stable this year, and dare we say, permanent.
Beginning February 28, 2022, all Canadian air travellers returning from an international destination will now be permitted to take a COVID-19 antigen test from the past day, rather than having to seek out a more expensive and inconvenient molecular test within 72 hours.
2022 began with the Omicron variant sweeping the globe, but lower infection rates here and around the world have given us reasons to be optimistic about a full resumption of international travel that looks closer than ever this year.
We look forward to getting back on the road!
For more information, take a look at our Covid-19 Travel Policy here