Temporary Suspension of Random Arrival COVID-19 Testing in Canada

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Randomized arrival testing at Canadian airports will be suspended (on the prior mandatory basis). Only unvaccinated travellers on June 11 forward will require testing upon re-entry into Canada.

Previously, fully vaccinated travellers were subjected to randomized testing too. It amounts to a pause on the random arrival testing between June 11 and July 1. July 1, the randomized testing, presumably, will begin once again.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos’ spokesperson, Marie-France Proulx, stated, “…this is the only way we have of detecting new variants coming into the country, given that provinces and territories are no longer doing any PCR testing.”

Airports, with these changes, can dismantle testing sites dedicated specified in particular spaces at airports. The three-week period permits to shift to off-site testing of COVID-19.

Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault said, “It’s going to make sure that the airports flow more quickly. The airports aren’t designed to be mini health care centres and so this will help with staff, it’ll help with congestion… So this is a good step in the right direction.”

With more widespread vaccination, especially among Canadians, and a vaccine-induced immunity to the virus, a widespread testing regime may become less necessary, according to public health experts. The removal of upon-arrival testing sites will reduce clogged airport systems and delays at airports.

However, the Government of Canada has defended the arrival testing program on the grounds of finding novel variants of the coronavirus, potentially, entering into the country and tracking the number of COVID-19 cases coming into Canada.

A major concern for all parties has been Toronto Pearson International’s hours-long waits as of recent. Staff may be overburdened in the midst of this. Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) has expressed this concern of delays. This will become worse, if kept up for the busy summer months.

The Canadian Government has hired 800 Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) screening officers to process this deluge of passengers. Opposition Conservatives urge the Government of Canada to drop vaccine mandates. These require travellers to give proof of vaccination. Passengers are required to show proof of vaccination, which the Opposition Conservatives disagree with as a policy.

Vaccine mandate is still required for federal employees and transport workers. Some claim this is resulting in staff shortages for airports.

With files from CBC News

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

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