Calls to eliminate all pre-departure testing requirements to ramp up with Roundtable briefing

Calls to eliminate all pre-departure testing requirements to ramp up with Roundtable briefing

TORONTO — Canada’s downgraded border measures kick in today, and that’s great news for the travel industry. However at least one industry group is keeping up the pressure to ease measures even more.

The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable is gearing up for another press conference today, to call on the federal government to do away entirely with pre-departure testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

Roundtable representatives at today’s briefing, scheduled for 11 a.m. (MST) at Calgary Airport, will be joined by medical personnel and business sector reps.

“Testing targeted at one sector is both unnecessary and not rooted in science,” says the Roundtable.

Today’s briefing is just the latest of many from the Roundtable, which counts airline, hotel and tour operator executives and heads of tourism and retail travel organizations among its members. The Roundtable’s Feb. 10 briefing included input from two doctors, both infection control specialists, who noted the inconsistencies in Canada’s COVID-19 strategy when it comes to travel, and who called on the government to remove unnecessary and non-science-based obstacles to international travel.

The Roundtable followed up with a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed by a who’s who of the travel industry, urging the need for a plan for travel’s full reopening.

That same day, Feb. 15, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced Canada’s updated travel measures, taking effect today, Feb. 28: the option of antigen tests instead of PCR tests for the pre-arrival testing requirement; a return to randomized on-arrival PCR testing with no isolation while waiting for test results; no isolation requirement for unvaccinated kids under 12 travelling with fully vaccinated adults; and a downgraded travel advisory, to Level 2.

Also today, all of Canada’s remaining airports will be able to welcome international flights. For much of the pandemic, just four of the country’s airports were able to receive international flights. That number went up to 18 in recent months.

And while the ban on cruise ships in Canadian waters was lifted in November 2021, the industry is waiting to see if and when there will be a change made to the Level 4 advisory on cruise ship travel.