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

“Missed an opportunity”: Travel groups call for lifting of all pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated travellers

TORONTO — There’s still more work to be done, says organizations in the travel and airline sectors.

The new measures, announced yesterday and taking effect Feb. 28, 2022, for fully vaccinated travellers, include: 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.

Here’s the feedback from the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, the Canadian Airports Council and more …

THE CANADIAN TRAVEL AND TOURISM ROUNDTABLE

“The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable welcomes the federal government’s decision to remove the advisory against non-essential travel, and its move away from mandatory pre-departure and on-arrival PCR tests. Though today’s announcement brings us one step closer to where our industry needs to be, in requiring pre-departure rapid antigen tests, the government missed an opportunity to align with other international jurisdictions that removed pre-departure test requirements for fully vaccinated travellers. With these changes, the travel and tourism sector continues to be the only industry subject to mandatory testing, despite being safer than everyday activities. We look forward to reviewing the details around these announced changes and to a continued dialogue with government to re-open our economy and get our sector back on its feet.”

CANADIAN AIRPORTS COUNCIL (CAC)

“These are positive steps and we commend the government for these actions,” said CAC Interim President Monette Pasher. “We look forward with enthusiasm to the next step and a specific timeline which would be to remove all pre-departure tests for travel. Countries like Denmark, the UK, Switzerland and more recently France, have removed testing obligations for fully vaccinated passengers and reflecting that our entire workforce are fully vaccinated in this sector. … We commend the government on the positive steps forward today and look forward to working with them to identify a clear timeline for the removal of all pre-departure testing for international travel ahead of the spring and summer 2022 season.”

THE GLOBAL BUSINESS TRAVEL ASSOCIATION CANADA (GBTA CANADA)

 “GBTA Canada welcomes today’s announcement from the Canadian government to ease international restrictions as positive news. Reducing Canada’s travel advisory, eliminating the need for molecular testing prior to entry, opening more airports to international travel and eliminating the need to quarantine bring us closer to normal than ever before,” said Nancy Tudorache, Regional Vice President, Canada of GBTA. “It is important however, that the government also commit to align any future travel restrictions due to possible future variants, with international best practices so that Canadians that want to do business abroad, and those that want to come and do business in Canada, can do so in a predictable manner that supports our overall economic recovery.”

TOURISM INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (TIAC)

“We’re encouraged today by the Government of Canada’s move to end to PCR tests for fully-vaccinated travellers as of Feb. 28. A negative antigen, or rapid, test is far less onerous and cumbersome to procure. We have been advocating heavily for this change on behalf of our members as well as the tourism industry at large; especially in recent weeks as the pandemic, vaccination status, and available science have evolved,” says Beth Potter, President and CEO of TIAC.

“It’s a step in the right direction and we look forward to the removal of the rapid test in the very near future. As Canada enters a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic – one marked by widespread vaccination and high levels of prior infection, and one which many Medical Officers of Health have called endemic – it’s time for the federal government to reopen Canada by ending not just PCR, but also antigen testing for all fully-vaccinated travellers.”

Potter adds that TIAC is leading a series of meetings with Parliamentarians this week to lobby for the Canadian tourism industry as part of its annual Hill Days advocacy campaign (Feb. 15-17, 2022). “When COVID-19 arrived, tourism was the industry first hit, hardest hit, and will be the last to fully recover,” says Potter.