Expect Delays and Hassle at the Border as Federal Government Still Not at Full Testing Capacity

Still planning to travel internationally in the coming days? Expect “delays and hassle” when you land in Canada, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is warning as airports are still not at full capacity to administer arrival COVID-19 tests.

On Friday, Duclos said that while there’s been an increase in the number of tests airports have been able to do, there’s still a ways to go more than a week after the new travel policy came into force.

“On Nov. 30, our capacity for all air travellers from all countries was 11,000 tests per day. As of yesterday, Dec. 9, that capacity has increased to 17,000 tests per day. The end state to test all non-U.S. air travellers is a capacity of 23,000 nationally,” Duclos said.

“Our testing capacity is increasing steadily and significantly but it still remains incomplete.”

To help scale up, the federal government has awarded contracts to private firms to help with additional COVID-19 testing and processing, but Duclos couldn’t say when the government will be ready and able to test all incoming travellers.

“Canadians who are thinking of travelling abroad need to be warned that the situation abroad is both risky and unstable. They should also know that returning to Canada will likely involve delays and hassle,” Duclos said.

Still, he said all travellers who are landing from non-U.S. locations should expect to be tested and have to quarantine upon arrival.

Last week, Duclos said that the directive to implement the new policy has been given, but it was up to each airport where international flights are landing to get the logistics in place, which could happen at different times depending on the airport. He’s also indicated that if an upon-arrival test is not possible, travellers may be given a take-home test.

Fully-vaccinated incoming travellers who have been tested have to remain in self-isolation until they receive a negative result, while any incoming unvaccinated travellers will continue to have to isolate for the full 14 days and test on day one and day eight of their quarantine.

As of Dec. 9, the Vancouver International Airport is administering on average 3,130 tests per day; the Calgary International Airport is administering on average 1,460 tests per day; the Toronto Pearson International Airport is administering on average 8,317 tests per day, and the Montreal Trudeau International Airport is administering on average 3,033 tests per day.

Duclos said that while it could change, the Canadian government is not currently advising Canadians not to travel.

“The main advice is to be extremely prudent when it comes to thinking about travelling outside of Canada,” said the health minister.

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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