Health officials say travel testing rules being reviewed in advance of spring break


After two years of a pandemic, and surrounded by grey, drizzly skies you might not blame for people for dreaming of getting away for spring break.

Yet while travel agents are typically at their busiest right now booking trips abroad for spring break, they say things remain slow with many hesitant and confused over testing and quarantine requirements.

“People are reluctant to have to do multiple tests prior to arriving and then another test after they’ve arrived so that is certainly creating a bit of hesitancy for people,” said Far and Away Adventures owner Normand Schafer.

Currently anyone travelling abroad needs a negative PCR test before returning to Canada, and that can get expensive.

“So for a family of four you’re looking at potentially $500 or more dollars, $500 to $800 for those tests and that’s really making it difficult for people,” Shafer said.

Not only that, if you’ve had a recent COVID-19 infection, which so many have during the Omicron wave, you could still test positive on a PCR test months later and have to quarantine at your destination.

On top of all that, you might also be randomly selected for yet another test upon arrival. Victoria International Airport is joining a growing call from the travel industry to change the rules.

In a statement, Rod Hunchak, Director of Business Development and Community Relations, says “VAA continues to work with our colleagues at other Canadian airports, the Canadian Airports Council, and Transport Canada to express our concerns for measures that do not reflect the science and data available in regards to the effectiveness of on-arrival testing and which continue to inhibit the recovery of air travel in Canada.”

Current data supports that efforts would be better spent on providing access to testing at the community level and not for arriving international travellers.”

BC’s top doctor says she’s been told the federal testing requirements are being reviewed.

“We have had ongoing discussions about the border measures and what tests are required when and why and I know they are reviewing those in the next few weeks,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a press briefing Tuesday.

READ MORE: Experts hopeful about Omicron’s end but wary about what lies ahead

Health Canada says arrival testing is still showing increasing positivity among international travellers and that it will be watching how vaccination levels, case counts and hospitalization rates evolve before considering any changes to border measures.

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April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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