PCR test requirement to be lifted at border

The iconic Ambassador Bridge tower sign is seen on October 28, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Fully vaccinated Canadians will soon have an easier time getting back across the border from the U.S.

The federal government confirmed Friday afternoon that starting Tuesday, November 30,  fully vaccinated people who cross the border and return home within 72 hours will not need to produce proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test.

The change only applies to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and those registered under the Indian Act, who can demonstrate that they were out of the country for less than 72 hours. Children under 12 accompanied by an adult, and people who can’t get a COVID-19 vaccination for medical reasons are also covered by the new rules.

Also on November 30, Canada will expand the list of approved vaccines that travellers outside of North America can have to be considered fully vaccinated in Canada. This list will match the one provided by the World Health Organization.

The adjustment of the requirements has come after concerns were raised about cost, as PCR tests may set travellers back hundreds of dollars for each trip, even if it is just for shopping, dining, or attending sports events. But federal health minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the top priority remains to stop the spread of the virus.

“Health and safety will always remain at the forefront of any decision our government makes in the fight against COVID-19,” said Duclos. “The upcoming changes to Canada’s border testing and entry requirements reflect the next stage in our government’s approach as we align with the improving vaccination rates both here in Canada and around the world. The situation at our borders remains closely monitored, with officials and experts continuing their work to evaluate the measures in place and recommend necessary adjustments as required.”

Additional adjustments are being made to Canada’s travel requirements. Starting January 15, 2022, certain groups that are currently exempt from entry requirements will be allowed into Canada only if they are vaccinated with a shot approved in Canada. The groups include people with valid work permits, essential workers such as truck drivers, international students 18 and older, people travelling to reunite with family, professional and amateur athletes, and temporary foreign workers outside the agriculture and food industries.