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Negative PCR Test Required to Enter Canada

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Transport Canada issued a news release New Years Eve, while everyone was enjoying the end of 2020 and the start of a better year.

In the release they announce that has of January 7th, you will require a negative PCR test prior to you departure back to Canada. For travelers who are already on vacation, there is no mention of where or how to get a test, and it also states that the travelers must pay for the additional costs of getting these tests, if not covered by their insurance, assuming it is available.

In many countries the PCR test, which is the test required by Transport Canada, is not used, or is not readily available, which will leave some Canadians searching for an alternate route back to Canada.

Hopefully the government will clarify this new regulation and allow those already out of the country and are returning to be exempt from the test, since they are still required to quarantine for 14 days. That or provide the test upon their return.

One thing is clear, do not count on logic from the government..... although it is a new year.

Here is the release

December 31, 2020         Ottawa         Government of Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis that is having a significant impact on the air industry and all travellers. The Government of Canada has multiple measures in place to protect the health and safety of Canadians, and to help prevent air travel from being a source of further introduction and spread of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus into Canada.

Since March 13, 2020, the Government of Canada has strongly advised against non-essential travel, and that travel restrictions and measures can be amended at any time as necessary for public health reasons.

The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, is requiring that, effective January 7, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EST, all air passengers five years of age or older will be required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country to Canada. This implementation date provides all airlines, both foreign and domestic, adequate time to comply with the new requirements.

Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.

Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The Government of Canada will be further increasing surveillance efforts to ensure travellers entering Canada complete the applicable mandatory 14-day quarantine period under the Quarantine Act.

As has been the case for months, all travellers will have their quarantine plans reviewed by a government official and, if not suitable, will be required to quarantine in a federal quarantine facility. Travellers to Canada must use the ArriveCAN App or website and provide accurate contact information and their mandatory 14-day quarantine plan on or before entry.

Violating any instructions provided when you enter Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

Canadians who are currently travelling and returning to Canada soon should start immediately arranging for a COVID-19 test, to avoid a delay in their return to Canada. Canadians who are planning to travel abroad should consider how they will meet these requirements before departure.

UPDATE

In the Associated Links to Frequently Asked Questions Transport Canada provides a few additional clarifications.

  • Starting January 7, 2021, anyone flying to Canada from another country, unless exempted, will be required to provide written or electronic documentation showing they received a negative result from a COVID-19 test conducted within 72 hours prior to their scheduled boarding.
  • The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Without a negative COVID-19 test, travellers will be denied boarding onto their flight.
  • A COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test must have been conducted within 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Canada. In other words, the specimen should be within three days prior to the flight, with the expectation that the results will come in the intervening period.
  • This timing recognizes that it may take a few days for passengers to receive their results following a PCR test. In addition, flights may be delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, outside the air carrier’s control.
  • Persons who are travelling from a country where PCR testing is unavailable will be required to report to a designated Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine facility for the duration of their mandatory 14-day quarantine. Delays in obtaining test results does not apply.
  • Unless otherwise exempt, presentation of a valid negative test to the airline will be a condition of boarding a flight to Canada and therefore, an airline will be required to refuse boarding to travellers that are unable to demonstrate this.
  • At this time, proof of having a vaccine will not replace a negative test result. While a vaccine protects an individual from illness, further evidence is required to understand if a vaccinated person can still shed virus.
  • If not covered by your travel insurance....travellers are expected to cover any cost related to being tested and obtaining the proof of their test result.

Happy New Year.....