WestJet wants departure testing requirements dropped for fully vaccinated Canadians

Feb 16 2022, 10:21 pm

WestJet is welcoming news from the federal government that Canada will soon be dropping pre-arrival PCR COVID-19 test requirements for some travellers entering the country and is now calling for a rethink of departure testing rules.

The government announced on Tuesday that, beginning February 28, fully vaccinated Canadians will no longer require a pre-arrival PCR test when returning home. As well, a ban on international flights at all airports that typically receive flights from countries around the world will be lifting on February 28.

In a statement from WestJet, the airline said that they welcome the announcement from the federal government in regard to the changes to Canada’s border measures and travel policies.

“We view this as a positive step forward for the recovery of our airline and sector,” Denise Kenny, Strategist, Media & Public Relations at WestJet, told Daily Hive in an email. “We believe this announcement will provide Canadians with enhanced confidence to travel and are currently seeing an uptick in demand for both long and short-term travel.”

Canadian travellers will still require a test to return to the country, but a molecular test is no longer the gold standard. Cheaper antigen tests will be accepted. There will continue to be random PCR testing conducted at airports, but fully vaccinated travellers will not have to quarantine until results are available.

Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to use rapid antigen tests for their pre-arrival testing. The test will need to have been conducted within 24 hours of travel. Unvaccinated travellers will be required to be tested upon arrival and will have to quarantine for 14 days.

The federal government is also lifting the non-essential travel advisory that was put in place in December as the Omicron variant took hold.

According to the statement, the WestJet Group will continue to advocate, based on science and data, for the removal of all measures impacting fully vaccinated air travellers.

“As measures transition and Canada’s pandemic situation continues to improve, we are optimistic that the remaining policies will be reassessed and removed for fully-vaccinated travellers in the weeks ahead as outlined today by the Ministers,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice-President, External Affairs, in the statement.

WestJet says that they would like to see the federal government return to surveillance arrivals testing only.

“The removal of travel barriers for fully-vaccinated travellers and families is a positive step forward for our industry; we have been advocating tirelessly for these changes on behalf of our guests and our communities,” said Avery.

“As a fully-vaccinated industry,” she continued, “we have worked with public health authorities and all governments to curb COVID-19 and [Tuesday’s] announcement validates that travel has never been a significant vector of transmission.”

The company also hopes that Canada will outline a recovery roadmap for the travel and tourism industry, reflective of the current realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With files from Brooke Taylor

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