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Canada to scrap pre-travel PCRs for fully vaccinated

Canada will ease its tough arrival rules from 28 February: fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to pay for a slow and expensive PCR test before their journey.

Marco Mendicino, the minister of public safety, said: “The Canadian economy will not fully recover until our tourism sector recovers and today’s measures will help us safely welcome visitors to Canada.”

Travellers still face a significant chance they could be selected for a random check on arrival.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said in a statement that “the latest wave of Covid-19 driven by the Omicron variant has passed its peak”.

The body said: “It is now time to move towards a more sustainable approach to long-term management of Covid-19.”

From 12.01am on 28 February, travellers to Canada will be allowed to take a cheap lateral flow (rapid antigen) test the day before travel. The authorities say: “Taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement.”

The test must be “administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service”.

Travellers will still be randomly selected for arrival testing, but from 28 February they will no longer be required to quarantine while waiting for their test result.

In the eight weeks from 28 November 2021, five per cent of 720,000 vaccinated air travellers who were tested on arrival proved positive for Covid-19.

Children under 12 travelling with fully vaccinated adults will continue to be exempt from quarantine.

“Unvaccinated foreign nationals will not be permitted to enter Canada unless they meet one of the few exemptions,” the Public Health Agency said.

The government in Ottawa is also ending its recommendation that Canadians avoid travel for non-essential purposes.

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