Canada’s New COVID Testing Requirement Leaves Many Confused

Mark Stachiew, Open Jaw

With just a few days to go before new COVID-19 testing requirements kick in for travellers entering Canada, there are still many questions unanswered about the new rules that come into force on JAN07.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, National Airlines Council of Canada president Mike McNaney said that airlines are still waiting for the final text of the regulatory changes that were announced late last week.

As an example, he said that airlines still don’t know what types of documents travellers will have to show as proof of a negative test and what travellers can do if they are coming from an area where it is difficult or impossible to be tested. He also wondered if the government would only accept results from foreign testing centres that are approved by Ottawa. 

“When you don’t have great clarity on this, what you create is uncertainty. And when you create uncertainty, what you then create by definition is disjointed application. And that’s not just by carriers, but also by the general public who are not clear themselves what is required,” McNaney told the Globe.

The industry group led by McNaney represents the country’s largest airlines such as Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also expressed frustration with Canada’s new testing requirement.

In a release to the media, IATA said the decision was the ‘worst of both worlds’ by not only mandating that passengers provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test taken within 72 hours before planned departure to Canada, but at the same time declining to lift existing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. 

"It is both callous and impractical to impose this new requirement on travelers at such short notice," said the IATA release. "It is completely unrealistic to mandate that airlines check passengers’ compliance with the new rule, as it cannot be the airline’s role to determine if a passenger tried their utmost to get tested or not."

In a separate interview with the Vancouver Sun, McNaney criticized the government for its hasty plan.

“We’ve been calling on the government now for over the past six months to work with industry to implement the national testing strategy,” McNaney told the Vancouver Sun Friday. “The whole point of (recent pilot project programs) was to avoid with a rushed approach and implementation, which is exactly what we are now seeing.”

Not all of the reaction was negative. While all of Regina's flights are currently coming from other Canadian hubs, Regina Airport Authority president and CEO James Bogusz told the CBC that he thought the new requirement was a "step in the right direction,” but he did  hope that the federal government would shorten quarantine periods for those who test negative.

Comments

ANAC - January 5, 2021 @ 17:48
This is just absolute crazy!! You have to pay for covid test to go out of the country(destination you travel to needs a covid test) and then pay again to come back to the country… wow this is just going to get worse for the travel industry…
No business people will want to travel if they have to go through all this trouble..
On top of the covid test you still have to quarantine for 2 weeks!!! No other countries have this rule if you show them a negative test!
Just insane whoever came up with this rule really didn’t think it through very well!! I guess they have to justify their salaries!!! To come up with STUPID RULES that dont make sense or are put in too fast!
The Canadian government should get their ACT together!!!!

Teodor Tanase - January 5, 2021 @ 12:18
Mary T, with all due respect : take it easy. You have no idea how it is to live in a communist country. Do you ?

Teodor Tanase - January 5, 2021 @ 11:50
I'll try a bet: tomorrow 6 January after 8 pm, this restriction will be lifted.

Marcia Proctor - January 4, 2021 @ 14:17
The requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to re-enter the country is unreasonably onerous for those travelers who have already paid for their trips in full and are either in destination or about to leave. More notice should have been provided. These people are now scrambling to get tested in destination. Because this new requirement is also grossly unfair to other countries that weren't prepared for the demand for testing by possibly thousands of Canadian travelers, making appointments for tests is proving to be virtually impossible and very expensive. While the motive for the change in policy may have been good, the execution is lousy - and very demoralizing for a travel industry that had thought things couldn't get worse.

Mary T - January 4, 2021 @ 13:57
We are living in a communist country, the government is doing its utmost best to discourage their citizens from travelling, they want to lock us down.
It seems their main purpose is to make people miserable.
But they can travel like the finance minister.
What kind of idiots made this rule?
So you get a negative test and then you still quarantine. Might as well throw the key.
Pure, unadulterated communism.

Sharon Kaendo - January 4, 2021 @ 13:54
They are just making it harder for our industry to recover.

anita djordjevic - January 4, 2021 @ 13:42
It is illegal to deny entry to Canadian citizens into Canada unless you close all borders.
As of yet, they have not made travel illegal, it is just being shamed on a great level. Canada is now the only country with open borders who is requiring testing of its own citizens before coming in.

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