Canada to Ease COVID Measures at Borders as Cases Decline, Truckers Protest

Canada will ease travel restrictions at the end of the month for international visitors and Canadians who are traveling internationally because of declining COVID cases, amid weeks of protest from truckers in several cities across the country.

Officials announced Tuesday that fully vaccinated international travelers will be able to take a rapid test rather than one that takes longer to produce results, and fully vaccinated Canadians who make short international trips less than 72 hours in length will not have to test to reenter the country, according to Reuters.

Under the current rules, all travelers must submit a negative PCR test result from within 72 hours of the time that they arrive at the Canadian border or the time their flight will arrive in Canada, CTV News reported. In addition, the government is easing its advisory against nonessential travel out of the country and will instead opt to recommend that Canadians take precautionary measures when traveling abroad, according to Reuters.

"I want to underscore that Canadians should still exercise caution when traveling abroad. There is still a real risk of becoming sick or stranded while abroad and having to extend their trip or find themselves in need of medical assistance should they test positive for COVID-19," Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said, according to CTV.

Children will also no longer have to be isolated when returning from international travel before they can return to school or daycare centers, CTV reported. The officials said unvaccinated travelers will still be required to test upon arrival into the country and must quarantine for two weeks.

The country's random testing program, in which some fully vaccinated travelers are randomly selected to be tested upon arrival, will continue, the officials said. However, those selected will no longer be required to quarantine until they receive their results, according to CBC.

"We have passed the peak of the latest wave driven by the Omicron variant," Duclos said, according to CBC. "In addition, after two years of following individual public health measures, such as getting vaccinated, wearing masks, keeping our distance and staying at home if sick, Canadians know what to do to keep themselves and each other safe."

Duclos also said that the measures, like they have been until now, will be constantly evaluated to determine if any need to be reinstated or if more restrictions can be removed, CBC reported. He also said that they can be removed and monitored because of the number of tools Canada has to evaluate the pandemic.

"These tools include the strong surveillance system, a highly vaccinated population, continued access to vaccines, access to therapeutics both in and outside our hospital system and increasing access to rapid tests," Duclos said, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra said that starting next month, more airports across Canada will be allowed to receive international flights, according to the Journal. Currently, 18 airports are permitted to receive the flights.

Update 2/15/22, 2:34 p.m.: This story has been updated with additional context and information.

Coronavirus Canada International Travel Testing Fully Vaccinated
Canada announced it will ease pandemic travel restrictions on its borders at the end of the month, officials said Tuesday. Above, a health care worker seals a coronavirus swab after testing at the Pro Health Urgent Care coronavirus testing site on April 30, 2020, in Wantagh, New York. Al Bello/Getty Images