Ontario Independent

Saturday, December 9, 2023

New COVID-19 testing standards have caused ‘chaos’ at Canadian airports

Key takeaways:

  • According to industry groups, Canada intends to require new coronavirus tests for all foreign airline arrivals, barring those from the United States.
  • Several travelers who had raced to schedule trips due to lessening regulations just weeks before were having second thoughts.

According to industry groups, Canada’s plan to mandate new coronavirus tests for all foreign flight arrivals, excluding those from the United States, risks producing “chaos” and long lineups if all passengers are expected to be tested at airports.

The move, announced on Tuesday, comes as the travel season begins, and it is expected to strain airport resources while also testing holiday travelers’ patience, according to officials.

According to Daniel Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, airports cannot screen all international arrivals onsite due to significant wait periods.

Also read: In GTA two new cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant have been reported

“Do we want people waiting for hours in a customs hall for a test?” he said over the phone on Wednesday.

“We want to keep things as orderly as possible. And we want to make sure that travelers who have booked vacations can travel comfortably.”

Canada said on Tuesday that everyone coming abroad by air, except the United States, will be needed to take a COVID-19 test to limit the spread of the Omicron coronavirus type.

Currently, only randomly selected international flight passengers are tested at airports by private businesses with which the government has contracts.

The announcement came as the country’s aviation sector, devastated by the pandemic, was hoping for a better festive season this year.

Canadian airports warn of 'chaos' amid new COVID-19 testing rules

Canadian public health officials did not specify when the policy will go into force, who will give the tests, or whether they will be delivered onsite or through take-home kits on Wednesday.

Airports are pushing the latter.

Tori Gass, a representative for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, the country’s busiest, said in an email that “a combination of onsite and off-airport testing must be considered to meet the volume of tests envisioned.”

Meanwhile, several travelers who had raced to schedule trips due to lessening regulations just weeks before were having second thoughts.

“I have many clients who have decided to cancel and are now looking at what returns they will be able to get,” said Marty Firestone of Travel Secure insurance, adding that the travel environment was improving.

“We’ve taken two steps back,” he admitted.

Source: CTV News

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