Canadian travellers won't need PCR tests to re-enter country by Monday

Feb 26 2022, 7:53 pm

Fully vaccinated Canadians won’t need to take a PCR test to get back into the country starting Monday. 

The change comes as the federal government slowly lifts more COVID-19 public health restrictions.

In January, airlines like WestJet and Air Canada vied for PCR tests to be scrapped at international arrivals.

And doctors called the tests “obsolete” for travellers at the border earlier in February, saying they already failed to keep variants out of the country.

For many, dropping the PCR requirement was a long time coming, but there are other amendments to travel rules important for Canadians to know as well.

The switch to rapid testing

The country is accepting rapid tests now, which are cheaper and provide results faster.

If you’re travelling, you will now have the option of using a COVID-19 rapid antigen test result — but according to the government, it must be taken the day prior to your scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry.

“Taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement – it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service,” reads a statement on the federal government’s website.

Random testing is in effect, but fully vaccinated travellers who are selected don’t have to quarantine while they wait for results.

To be clear, Canadians can still choose to use the more expensive PCR test if they want to. They just don’t need to anymore, and can opt for rapid antigen testing instead.

Restrictions lifted for kids

Kids 11 and younger who aren’t fully vaccinated but are travelling with fully vaccinated parents no longer need to self-isolate before attending school, daycare, or camp.

They don’t need to be tested to travel anymore either.

Other need-to-know travel changes

Canadians no longer need to avoid non-essential travel, the federal government announced.

The rules differ for unvaccinated adults. They still need to be tested and quarantine for 14 days while waiting for test results.

Federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos confirmed the news last week.

“I am happy to announce these changes today, as I know many of us are looking forward to living with fewer restrictions. However, we must continue to exercise prudence,” Duclos said. 

“Let me be clear: Our fight against the virus is not over.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that a rapid antigen test must be taken within 24 hours of a scheduled flight.

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