Canada Eases Travel Restrictions, Removes COVID-19 PCR Test Requirement

by Carolee Chanona

Starting March 1, Canada will ease entry travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers, according to Federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos’ announcement. Instead, a Rapid Antigen Test will be accepted instead of the current mandatory PCR Test; although, travelers can still enter with a PCR test within 72 hours of travel if they so choose. The antigen test must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare setting, or telehealth service, no more than 24 hours before a traveler’s scheduled flight or arrival at Canada’s land border. Additionally, the new measures include dropping the compulsory COVID-19 test on entry; the federal government will announce this at a later time.

Duclos made the announcement alongside federal Minister of Transportation Omar Alghabra, Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino, Minister of Tourism Randy Boissonnault and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc. There’s a handful of eased travel restrictions coming after February, which we’re outlining below.

Dropping Isolation, Adjusting The Travel Health Notice & More

An Air Canada flight departs. Photo by John McArthur on Unsplash

Importantly, the Canadian government will adjust its Travel Health Notice from a Level 3, which means it is no longer recommended that Canadians avoid non-essential travel. “Canadians should still exercise caution when traveling abroad,” Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health said Tuesday. Previously, the government recommended against all non-essential travel, and now it is only urging citizens to take precautions.

While children under the age of 12 who weren’t fully vaccinated would’ve needed to isolate, which Canada is now lifting if traveling with fully vaccinated adults. And if you’re a fully vaccinated Canadian making a short trip abroad that’s less than 72 hours, you won’t even need to test.

Toronto’s Pearson airport. Image via CNN

On Feb. 28 at 4:00 p.m. ET, Transport Canada’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) will expire, meaning that international passenger flights can land at all remaining Canadian airports that usually receive international travelers. Currently, only 18 Canadian airports are allowed to accept international flights.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated once receiving their final dose at least 15 calendar days prior to arriving in Canada. Canada’s travel restrictions include the continuation of submitting mandatory travel information through the ArriveCAN app or website.

Non-Stop Belize-Canada Flights

WestJet offers non-stop, seasonal flights to Belize from Toronto and Calgary. Ultimately, the availability of WestJet’s service gives Canadians greater connectivity to a tropical, English-speaking destination in Central America. In 2017, WestJet announced its latest non-stop weekly service to Belize from Calgary; WestJet typically offers non-stop service to Belize from October to May. As a welcomed addition to Belize’s recovering tourism industry, direct flights are available through Calgary (YYC), Toronto (YYZ), Vancouver (YVR), and Montreal (YUL).

And now with eased travel restrictions—like allowing all remaining Canadian airports to receive international travelers—snowbirds from Canada can continue to enjoy non-stop service to a fellow Commonwealth.

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) is the largest and busiest airport in Canada. Image by HW via Unsplash. Source: CNN

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