Just a day after the U.S. has ended its own testing requirement, Canada has just announced that the random Covid testing system at airports for which some international arrivals were selected is going to end.
Random testing at airports will be temporarily suspended at all airports starting on Saturday, June 11 until June 30th after/during which the matter will be reviewed yet again by the government.
Canada has had no formal testing requirement for vaccinated travelers for quite some time now but passengers could still be pulled aside randomly and tested for Covid at one of the four international airports that the federal government has cleared for accepting international flights.
As Global News reported today, the measure is suspended effective immediately:
Ottawa will temporarily end random COVID-19 testing of incoming international passengers at Canadian airports.
Random testing at airports will be temporarily suspended at all airports starting on Saturday, June 11 until June 30, according to a joint statement from Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault.
Unvaccinated travellers will still be required to be tested on-site.
The government is also announcing that, as of July 1, all testing, including for unvaccinated travellers, will be performed off-site.
The news comes after federal public health officials said Friday they were looking at updating their advice to government on the random testing reuquirement.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the testing is not done to monitor travelers for infection, but rather as a way to measure emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 that may be making their way into Canada from other countries.
“The random testing is not to detect every case. It is there to provide an early-warning system for variants of concern,” Tam said on Friday at a Public Health Agency of Canada press conference.
Deputy chief Dr. Howard Njoo said PHAC will be providing updated guidance regarding this random testing to lawmakers that could look at other ways to measure new variants of COVID-19 in Canada.
“I think we need to look at other ways to detect the virus. It doesn’t need to happen at the airport, it could happen elsewhere,” Njoo said in French during the press conference. …
It’s unclear what they mean when saying that unvaccinated passengers are being tested off site. Would this mean somewhere in the local community of the traveler or a processing center that is nearby the airport (how would the traveler get there?)?
These measures are now completely outdated and as even the public health official noted, it’s not a contemporary method anymore to combat Covid which is now rife in pretty much every community in Canada as well as around the world.
Last month when I visited Canada I decided to leave my cruise ship a day early and just entered the country at the Port of Victoria rather than flying the next morning from Seattle to Vancouver and deal with all this as an international arrival. Taking the float plane over from Victoria to Downtown Vancouver was a lot easier and nobody cared about any kind of arbitrary testing this way.
As of today, Saturday, June 11 until June 30 the practice of pulling people aside at airports for random Covid tests (no matter if the traveler has been vaccinated) will be suspended while the policies are being reevaluated.
It was always unacceptable to have this looming over your head while traveling overseas to Canada. Either require a test or not but don’t have people randomly selected for such tests.