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Canada to drop vaccination demand and random Covid tests for travel – reports

Hong Kong and Taiwan are also preparing to ease quarantine rules, according to reports 

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A healthcare worker directs travellers to a mandatory Covid-19 testing area at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in February, 2021. Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

A healthcare worker directs travellers to a mandatory Covid-19 testing area at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in February, 2021. Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

A healthcare worker directs travellers to a mandatory Covid-19 testing area at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in February, 2021. Photo: Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Canada, which currently has some of the strictest Covid travel restrictions in the western world, looks set to drop its requirement for vaccinations – and scrap the random testing of arrivals.

At present Canada demands that overseas visitors show proof of having completed a course of vaccination, with certificates uploaded to the ArriveCan app.

In addition, international arrivals at the four biggest Canadian airports – Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver – may be randomly selected for a Covid test. If the result is positive, the international arrival must go into 10 days of hotel quarantine at the Canadian government’s expense.

But the Toronto-based Globe and Mail is reporting that the policy will be eased on Friday, September 30.

The journal says four sources have told it that the vaccination requirement, random testing of arrivals and mandatory completion of the ArriveCan app will be dropped by the end of the month – though the changes, which will apply to all ports of entry, have yet to be confirmed by Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.

Reuters has also reported that Canada's federal government will likely drop its Covid-19 vaccine requirement for people entering Canada at the end of the month, citing a government source. 

Canada’s current vaccination requirement aligns with the United States. But the random post-arrival test injects a degree of uncertainty not usually found elsewhere.

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It was introduced in July 2022. In response, the International Air Transport Association said: “Canada has become a total outlier in managing Covid-19 and travel.

“While governments across the globe are rolling back restrictions, the government of Canada is reinstating them.”

Canadian airports were among those facing chaos over the summer, with numerous cancellations and delays that some blamed on the country's strict Covid-19 restrictions. 

Random testing can be avoided by flying direct to Halifax, Quebec City or another smaller airport.

According to two of the sources who talked to the Globe and Mail, passengers on trains and planes in Canada will still be required to wear masks. This is likely to apply to international flights.

In other news, Hong Kong looks set to scrap its controversial Covid-19 hotel quarantine policy for all arrivals from early October.

Currently, arrivals must pay for three days in a hotel and follow that with four days of self-monitoring. Reuters reported that the change is set to be announced next week, more than two-and-a-half years after the system was first adopted.

The city's leader, John Lee, said this week he wanted to keep the city connected with the rest of the world and allow an "orderly opening-up" but did not specify exactly when the quarantine policy would be changed.

Taking its cues from China’s zero-Covid policy, Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world to still require travellers from abroad to quarantine upon arrival.

Taiwan also aims to end its mandatory Covid-19 quarantine for arrivals from around October 13, and will ease other restrictions from next week, its government said on Thursday.

- Additional reporting by Reuters, Pól Ó Conghaile


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