Tuesday,  March 21, 2023  12:55 am

Return of random testing “a step backward” that “unfairly” targets tourism: Roundtable

  • Air
  •   07-15-2022  9:02 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Return of random testing “a step backward” that “unfairly” targets tourism: Roundtable
Travellers pass through Toronto Pearson International Airport. (Pax Global Media)
Pax Global Media

The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, a coalition of industry leaders, says it is “disappointed” with Ottawa’s decision to re-introduce COVID-19 testing for air travellers entering Canada, starting July 19.  

Federal officials on Thursday (July 14) revealed that it will restore random testing for fully vaccinated air travellers arriving into the country at four major Canadian airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto.

The program’s return comes a little more than a month after the government paused the measure, and testing will now be conducted offsite of airports, either at in-person appointments at “select testing provider locations and pharmacies,” or using virtual appointments and self-swab tests.

The controversial ArriveCAN app is now programmed to make random selections, and travellers will receive an email within 15 minutes of filling out their customs declaration, explaining how they can conduct their tests.

READ MORE: Ottawa to resume random testing offsite of airports on July 19

It’s now up to travellers to figure out how and where to take their test with a provider at no cost, whether that be an in-person appointment or doing a self-swab via virtual appointment.

Mandatory random testing only applies to fully-vaccinated travellers.

Unless exempt, unvaccinated travellers still have to test on days one and eight of a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

And if a fully-vaxxed traveller tests positive, a 10-day isolation is required, regardless of what province or territory that person lives in.

"A step backward"

As our industry works with government, agencies and partners to combat wait times and delays, this announcement marks a step backward that unfairly targets Canada's tourism sector and negatively impacts Canadian and international travellers,” the Roundtable wrote in response to yesterday’s announcement.

“Medical experts have been clear – mandatory testing should be replaced by more effective ways to assess community spread, such as community wastewater testing for tracking future variants.”

The coalition further called the measures “an unnecessary and unhelpful step backward” that continues to put Canada out of alignment with its international partners and “singles out air travel” as the only consumer activity in the country with stringent health measures.

Mandatory random testing also continues at land border points of entry, the government noted yesterday.

The Government of Canada says that testing remains an “important part of our surveillance program” to track the importation of COVID-19 into Canada and identify new variants.

"As we have said all along, Canada's border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence,” said Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos in a statement yesterday. “We need to keep border testing measures in place because that is how we track importation of the COVID-19 virus, and of new variants of concern.”

“We will keep adapting our border measures to balance the need to protect Canadians while supporting our economic recovery.”

Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!  Click here to follow PAX on Facebook.