COVID-19 test required for Canadians before flying to the United States

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Most flights in and out of Victoria International Airport are domestic and not subject to new travel restrictions, however, any Canadian travellers heading south of the border will be impacted by the United States’ new COVID-19 test requirements announced by U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday.

The measures are aimed at curbing the spread of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant. This change means as of December 6, travellers heading south of the border on a plane must get a COVID-19 test within 24-hours prior to boarding.

The United States accepts any type of molecular test, including the PCR, or nucleic acid amplification tests. The viral COVID antigen test will also be accepted.

At Saanich’s Boundless Medical Clinic, Dr. Stuart Bax recommends the antigen tests because they’re cheaper and quicker for US-bound travellers.

People getting tested generally accept the new requirements, according to Dr. Bax.

“I think people are generally just want to do things right and they want to be safe. They get frustrated at the speed of rule changes and the lack of transparency,” suggests Dr. Bax.

This is what the new travel landscape looks like for all Canadians heading to the US.

All Canadians need an antigen or PCR test within one calendar day of departing to the United States, regardless of the length of the trip.

Return trips to Canada require a PCR test as well if the trip is longer than 72 hours, then another test at the Canadian airport and quarantining until they receive their test results if arriving from outside Canada and the US.

The BC government, according to BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, is still assessing the impact of the announcement.

Either way, Vancouver Island residents are thinking twice about their travel plans.

The new rules spark more uncertainty as the new variant creates more chaos on the cusp of the holiday travel season.

READ MORE: Tofino ranked as one of Canada’s best small towns: Travel + Leisure

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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