April is proving to be a busy travel month as the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reports its highest traffic volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago.
From April 11 to 17, 2022, which included the Easter long weekend, the CBSA welcomed into Canada more than one million travellers, sending a clear sign that eased border measures are having a positive impact on people’s confidence in travel.
Still, travellers this spring and summer are returning to a border that is managed differently with new requirements, which can result in “delays during peak periods,” the CBSA warned in a press release on Friday (April 22).
The CBSA says it is working to mitigate wait times at the border, but there are things that travellers can do to make the process easier for themselves and others.
People can, for one, reduce wait times by coming prepared with their passport (or other acceptable identification) and by completing their mandatory ArriveCAN submission, including their COVID-19 vaccination information, within 72 hours before arriving at the border, the CBSA says.
The agency says it uses projected trends to inform resource planning and ensure there is enough staff placed at entry points.
To improve the border experience, the CBSA also uses international-to-domestic and the international-to-international programs to decrease connection times, as well as primary inspection kiosks and the free ArriveCAN App and website.
Easter long weekend is typically a busy travel time. To give you an idea of how many people entered Canada during this period in previous years, the CBSA has provided the following numbers, covering all modes of transportation (land, air, marine, and rail):
- 2019: April 15 - 21: 1,875,542
- 2020: April 6 - 12: 126,759
- 2021: March 29 - April 4: 214,055
- 2022: April 11-17: 1,053,523
As you can see, 2022 is nearing 2019’s levels, which is great news for Canada’s battered travel and tourism sector as it enters a new stage of recovery.
Changes at the border
The CBSA update came on the same day that the Government of Canada announced further changes to border measures for certain eligible travellers.
Effective April 25, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children aged 5-11 who are accompanied by a fully vaccinated guardian will no longer be required to complete a pre-entry COVID-19 test for entry to Canada.
Pre-entry tests will still be required for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers aged 12 and older. But children under five are not required to provide a test result.
Additionally, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to provide a quarantine plan via ArriveCAN upon entry. (Completing ArriveCAN is, however, still mandatory).
This adds to the government ending pre-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers, and other restrictions, on April 1.
There is no evidence that the federal vaccine mandate for plane, train and ship travel will be lifted anytime soon, as Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has previously indicated.