Canadians are divided over how to handle COVID-19 testing at the border, according to a new study from the Angus Reid Institute.
While there’s some applause among border communities over Ottawa, as of next week, allowing fully vaccinated Canadians to take trips abroad lasting less than 72 hours without having to show a negative molecular test to return home, “not all are convinced that this is the right move,” the study says.
The study says Canadians are largely ready to move past molecular tests, such as the expensive PCR method.
While one-quarter say that this type of test should remain the standard, the largest group would prefer Canada switch to rapid antigen tests, which is what the United States uses.
Notably, 27 per cent say there should be no testing for fully vaccinated travellers, and one-in-ten (9 per cent) would drop testing entirely regardless of vaccination status.
“Those who travelled frequently prior to the pandemic are most eager to drop restrictions,” Angus Reid says.
Among Canadians who say they travelled to the United States five or more times per year before pandemic restrictions took effect, half (48 per cent) would drop testing for fully vaccinated travellers.
Another 14 per cent would drop testing completely. Meanwhile, the most infrequent travellers are the most inclined to keep molecular tests in place.
The data is based on an online survey that was conducted from Nov. 16-17, 2021, using a random sample of 1,514 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum members.
In August, Canada opened its border to fully vaccinated Americans for the first time since March 2020. The U.S. followed suit at the beginning of November.
Cross-border travel continues to lag far below pre-pandemic levels.
In August of this year, after Canada welcomed Americans tourists back into the country for the first time since March 2020, Canadian land borders saw 900,000 vehicles cross, a 75 per cent drop from August 2019.
Travel industry advocates have been calling on the Canadian government to scrap border testing entirely for vaccinated travellers, as per recommendations made by Ottawa’s own COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, which released a science-based report in May that states that pre-arrival testing is not necessary for those type of travellers.
Click here to view Angus Reid Institute's new study.