As Canada’s flight ban on India quietly expired yesterday (Sept. 21), the Canadian government announced that it will ease that restriction next week by allowing direct flights from India to resume, albeit with extra measures in place.
Transport Canada posted an official update on Tuesday, saying that it will extend its Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that restricts all direct commercial and private passenger flights to Canada from India until this Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, at 23:59 EDT.
Once the order expires, travellers eligible to enter Canada will be able to board direct flights from India to Canada with the following measures:
- Travellers must have proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test from the approved Genestrings Laboratory at the Delhi airport taken within 18 hours of their scheduled departure of their direct flight to Canada.
- Prior to boarding, air operators will check travellers’ test results ensuring they are eligible to come to Canada, and that fully vaccinated travellers have uploaded their information into the ArriveCAN mobile app or website. (Which is already a standard protocol for international travel to Canada).
“Travellers who are unable to meet these requirements will be denied boarding,” Transport Canada said.
The federal agency said it will be testing the new system, starting today (Sept. 22), by allowing three direct flights from India to arrive in Canada.
“All passengers on these flights will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival to ensure that the new measures are working,” Transport Canada said.
After the resumption of direct flights, travellers who are eligible to enter Canada who depart India for Canada via an indirect route will continue to be required to obtain a valid negative COVID-19 molecular test (within 72 hours of departure) from a third country (other than India) before continuing to Canada.
Air Canada, for one, has posted scheduled flights to Delhi, offering non-stop flights from Toronto (1 flight per day); non-stop flights from Vancouver) and non-stop flights from Montreal (three flights per week resuming, Oct. 31)
Ottawa's restrictions on flights from India was first introduced on April 22 due to rising cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the country.
Meanwhile, the Government of Canada is continuing to advise against non-essential travel outside of Canada.
“International travel increases the risk of exposure to, and the spread of COVID-19, including infection caused by new variants,” reads a Transport Canada statement.
At the same time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken publicly about the the merits of travelling while fully vaccinated.
“The health data is fairly clear that encouraging or allowing for travel of fully vaccinated individuals is low risk. It’s not zero risk, but it is low risk,” Trudeau said at a press conference in July.
Canada easing its Indian flight ban comes nearly three weeks after fully vaccinated travellers were given the green light to enter Canada from all other countries around the world.