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Loosening of federal border measures announced

Brendan Sheridan

Canada has continuously had border measures and pre-travel requirements related to COVID-19 in place since the beginning of the Pandemic. Due to recent data indicating that the latest wave of COVID-19 has passed its peak in the country, the Government of Canada has recently announced a series of adjustments to the border measures currently in force. These adjustments represent a phased approach by the Government of Canada to easing the travel restrictions.

As noted in the news release from the Public Health Agency of Canada, these adjustments will be coming into force as of February 28, 2022 at 12:01 am EST. The relevant adjustments to border measures aimed at easing the travel restrictions are discussed below.

On-Arrival Testing

The Government Canada has been randomly conducting on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated foreign nationals arriving in Canada since late 2021. While this random on-arrival testing is slated to remain in place for the time being for fully vaccinated travellers, as of February 28th fully vaccinated travellers who are selected will no longer need to quarantine while awaiting their test results. This is welcome news as some individuals who were tested have reported waiting upwards of 5 to 6 days for their results.

Unvaccinated travellers who meet one of the limited exemptions to enter Canada will continue to be required to test on arrival, and on Day 8 and will need to comply with the 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

Children Under 12 years old

Children who are under 12 years old who are travelling with fully vaccinated adults will also benefit from the easing of the COVID-19 related restrictions. Specifically, Children under 12 will continue to be exempt from the quarantine if they are if they are travelling with fully vaccinated adults, but will no longer have any conditions limiting their activities during their first 14 days in Canada. For example, unvaccinated children under 12 previously needed to wait 14 days before attending school, camp or daycare. As of February 28th, these conditions are no longer in force and children can attend these activities without the waiting period.

Pre-Travel COVID-19 Test

Potentially the most impactful adjustment is that the Government of Canada is allowing more flexibility in the COVID-19 test options to meet pre-entry requirements. Currently, the travel restrictions require that all individuals entering Canada must have a COVID-19 molecular test result taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry.

As of February 28th, travellers will now have the option of using a COVID-19 rapid antigen test result or a molecular test result to meet pre-entry requirements. If a traveller is relying on a rapid antigen test result to enter Canada then this test must be taken the day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry and it must be a test that is authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service. While there is additional flexibility with allowing antigen tests, it is very important to note that taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement.

If a traveller uses a COVID-19 molecular test to meet the travel restrictions then they must still meet the current requirements. This includes that the test is one of the approved COVID-19 molecular tests and that it is taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry.

Travel Health Notice and Notice to Airmen

Canada will also be adjusting the Travel Health Notice and will no longer recommend that Canadians avoid travel for non-essential purposes. Travellers should still take the necessary precautions, but the Government of Canada will not longer actively be recommending against non-essential travel.

Also, Transport Canada’s Notice to Airmen will be expiring on February 28, 2022 at 4:00 pm EST. This notice has restricted where international passenger flights were able to arrive in Canada. Its expiration means that international flights carrying passengers will be permitted to land at all remaining Canadian airports that are designated to receive international passenger flights.

Conclusion

After almost two-years of COVID-19 related border measures, we are beginning to see adjustments made to lighten the travel restrictions. This is a welcome reprieve for many travellers as it provides more flexibility in planning their travel to Canada. It is important to note that while these restrictions are coming into force on February 28th, they can revert quickly as we saw in December 2021 due to the Omicron variant’s emergence. As such, it is vital that you remain up to date on what is required and expected of you on the date you plan to travel to Canada.

Our immigration group would be pleased to advise on these travel requirements.


This client update is provided for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about the above, please contact a member of our Immigration group.

 

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