As COVID cases decline, Canada will relax travel requirements

Canada will ease entry for fully vaccinated international travelers beginning Feb. 28 as COVID-19 cases decline. Allowing a rapid antigen test for travelers rather than a molecular one, officials said on Tuesday.

Antigen tests are less expensive than molecular tests in Canada and can provide results in minutes.

The new measures, which include random testing for vaccinated visitors entering Canada, were announced at a briefing by federal government ministers.


“These changes are possible not only because we have passed Omicron’s peak, but also because Canadians across the country have listened to science and experts,” Duclos told reporters.

According to the health ministry, approximately 80% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, and more than 40% have received a booster dose.

The global travel advisory for Canadians is being updated as well. Previously, the government advised citizens to avoid all non-essential travel, but now it only advises them to exercise caution.

“Though today’s announcement brings us one step closer to where our industry needs to be,” the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable industry group said in a statement. “However, by requiring pre-departure rapid antigen tests, the government missed an opportunity to align with other international jurisdictions that have removed pre-departure test requirements for fully vaccinated travelers.”

“Today’s news by the federal government is a step forward both for travelers, our business, and the Canadian economy, which relies on commerce and tourism,” said Suzanne Acton-Gervais, interim president of the National Airlines Council of Canada.

As coronavirus infection rates decline, several jurisdictions, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, have announced a relaxation of restrictions imposed during the epidemic.

On Monday, Ontario announced that it will accelerate its plan to eliminate proof-of-vaccination requirements and ease pandemic-related capacity constraints for many enterprises, while Alberta, in the west, ended its mask requirements for schoolchildren.

For weeks, protesters have been blocking border crossings and paralyzing Ottawa’s downtown, demanding that governments lift pandemic restrictions. To pacify them, provincial premiers have refused relaxing restrictions, claiming that the limitations are no longer necessary to contain COVID-19.