It’s official: PCR test rule dropped for short trips of less than 72 hours

It’s official: PCR test rule dropped for short trips of less than 72 hours

OTTAWA — Effective at the end of this month, fully vaccinated Canadian travellers returning to Canada after short trips out of the country of 72 hours or less will no longer need to show proof of a negative PCR test.

The new rule takes effect Nov. 30, 2021 and applies to Canadians and permanent residents and those registered under the Indian Act, for both land border crossings, and air travel.

This latest update to Canada’s border measures was expected, with reports surfacing earlier this week. It’s good news as the travel industry continues its recovery.

However the travel industry will feel more of a positive impact if and when pre-departure PCR testing is phased out for longer duration trips, the trade’s bread and butter.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos made the announcement at a briefing today. “We can’t let our guard down,” he said.

He said the government is also expanding the list of vaccine brands on Canada’s green-light list, including SinoPharm and SinoVac. He added that Canada will also re-evaluating the requirements for American travellers entering Canada.

Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, left no room for confusion that these eased measures for the PCR test requirement are just for short trips of less than 72 hours. “Let me be clear: travellers who are outside Canada for more than 72 hours” will still need to show proof of a negative molecular test, he said today.

The cost and hassle of PCR testing is one of the few remaining hurdles to the Canadian travel industry’s recovery, and hopes had been high since earlier this month when chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the 72-hour PCR test requirement should be re-examined.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra

Many have pointed out the absurdity facing Canadian travellers heading across the U.S. border for day trips or quick getaways of less than 72 hours, who are asked to get their PCR test done in Canada pre-departure.

The PCR test rule is part of an order-in-council that expires Nov. 21.

During the Q&A portion of this afternoon’s briefing, a reporter asked why the PCR test requirement is still in place at all for returning Canadians who are fully vaccinated, especially since the government’s own panel recommended the requirement be eliminated.

Minister Duclos said: “There will be further looks at this situation. This is an ongoing process.”

And Dr. Tam added: “We really advise that we keep the test for now. But we are committed to revisiting these policies as we go along.”