PCR test elimination? Industry will be watching closely

PCR test elimination? Fingers crossed, but likely only for trips 72 hours or less to start

TORONTO — Hopes are high that travellers could get a break on the PCR test requirement for returning to Canada, however early indications suggest that for now at least, the PCR test requirement may only be eliminated for short trips of less than 72 hours.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said yesterday that the federal government will announce changes to COVID-19 prevention measures at the Canadian border “very soon.”

The cost and hassle of PCR testing is one of the few remaining hurdles to the Canadian travel industry’s recovery, and hopes have 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.

Many have pointed out the absurdity facing Canadian travellers heading across the U.S. border for day trips or travelling for 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 will expire on Sunday.

After meeting with fellow cabinet ministers Tuesday, Health Minister Duclos said the government plans to make an announcement on the border in the coming days.

“Nov. 21 is the time at which these orders-in-council must be renewed and with the renewal will come announcements,” he said.

As for when travellers will get the update, the minister would only say that it would be “very soon.”

Sources have suggested to the CBC and others that the elimination of the PCR test requirement, at least in the first phase, will only be for short trips of less than 72 hours.

With file from The Canadian Press