A passenger walks the halls at Montreal Trudeau Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A passenger walks the halls at Montreal Trudeau Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

As U.K. travel ban lifts, new pre-flight COVID-19 test rules will come into effect in Canada

Test must be taken pre-flight, within 72 hours of boarding a flight to Canada

Flight crews will be one of the few exempt from a new pre-flight COVID-19 test required for all incoming air travellers as of Thursday (Jan. 7), the day the ban against travel from the U.K. will lapse.

Federal ministers began to unveil details of the plan, first announced Dec. 30, in a press conference Wednesday (Jan. 6).

According to Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, the rules will apply to all incoming non-essential air travellers, including Canadians and foreign nationals, who are five years of age or older. The test must be a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that is taken within 72 hours of boarding a flight to Canada.

According to Transport Canada, the test must be conducted by a lab accredited by an external organization such as a government, a professional association or ISO accreditation. Incoming travellers can be refused boarding by an airline if they don’t have electronic or written proof of an approved test. Vaccinated travellers must still get a test, Garneau said, because the science is still unclear on whether a vaccinated person can still spread the virus.

Travellers from Saint Pierre et Miquelon are exempt until Jan. 14 and those from Haiti are exempt until Jan. 21 due to lack of testing capacity.

Travellers from the following countries can take a test up to 96 hours, not 72 hours, prior to boarding their flight until Jan. 14 because of scarce testing capacity:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Bonaire, Saint Eustatius & Saba
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Curacao
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • St. Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and Grenadines
  • Saint Maarten
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

Travellers will also be subject to other health screening measures, both before they board their flights and when they arrive, including having to provide a quarantine plan and getting their temperature taken. All non-essential travellers must still quarantine for 14 days, regardless of test results. Travellers coming from countries where approved PCR testing is not available will have to report to an official Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine facility.

“We strongly, strongly, strongly recommend to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada,” Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said.

Groups that are exempt include flight crew or people coming to Canada to become flight crew and emergency service providers. People coming from countries where it is difficult to obtain a test may taken one up to 96 hours prior to boarding a flight to Canada.

While federal ministers said they cannot stop people from travelling altogether, they warned that the government will not be running any more repatriation flights as it did at the start of the pandemic. Travellers must pay for their own COVID tests and it is unlikely the government will cover any costs to do with the virus and non-essential travel outside the country.

The International Air Transport Association, the trade association for the world’s airlines, expressed “deep frustration” with the new rules. The association said the airline industry has been calling for pre-flight testing for months to re-open borders and cease quarantine measures, it said it was “callous and impractical to impose this new requirement on travellers at such short notice.”

However, Garneau said that the federal government has been in touch with airlines over the past week to work out the details.

“We are confident that they will rise to the occasion,” he said.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Air TravelCoronavirustravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In September 2018, former Vancouver Canucks player Dave Babych tees off at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey during the 35th annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
No ‘shotguns’ or banquets: Surrey golf courses pitch COVID-safe tournaments for 2021

With spring on the way, course operators book tournaments that will involve ‘tweaks and adjustments’

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey council approves $420,570 in grants for local arts, culture groups

This happened at Monday night’s council meeting, to cover 2021

Surrey native Dylan Kinley, shown here with the Douglas College Royals, has signed with the UFV Cascades. (Douglas Royals photo)
UFV Cascades sign Surrey native Dylan Kinley

Tweedsmuir grad, Douglas Royals star joins Abbotsford-based team for 2021-22

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
OUR VIEW: Surrey’s public hearings are for being heard

Surrey public hearings of late have been devolving into something less than intended

Members of the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society picked up their new van from Mainland Ford in Surrey Wednesday (Jan. 27, 2021) after the society’s old van was stolen and damaged. (Submitted photo: Dylan Van Rooyen)
After thrift store van stolen and damaged, Surrey dealership helps out firefighters’ charitable society

The Community Thrift Store van was stolen in South Surrey in December

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Most Read