Mandatory random COVID-19 testing returning for Toronto Pearson airport travellers

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Starting next week,the policy suspending random testing for COVID-19 on travellers coming through Pearson International airport will be re-implemented.

Citing the long lines and delays at airports, the policy had been tabled to ease the pressure on traffic flow as well as on the staff.  Now, with the province currently in its seventh wave of the pandemic and experts including the Ontario’s chief medical officer predicting a peak in infection within two weeks, measures are being taken to curb the spread.  The policy will resume on July 18 for travellers arriving by air at Canada’s four major Canadian airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto.

With a view to avoiding potential service disruption at the airports, the testing will be conducted off-site. Individuals will have access to the tests either in-person at testing locations and pharmacies or will be direct to utilize a self-swab test at home during a virtual appointment.

“Moving testing outside of airports will support testing for travellers arriving by air while still being able to monitor and quickly respond to new variants of concern, or changes to the epidemiological situation,” officials said in a news release issued Thursday. “Mandatory random testing continues at land border points of entry, with no changes.”

Those travellers selected for random testing at Toronto Pearson will receive an email notification within 15 minutes of completing their customs declaration. At that time, directives on how to go about arranging a test will be provided.

Those travellers who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated will still be required to get a test upon arrival into the country as well as on day eight of their mandatory 14-day quarantine. All travellers must utilize the ArriveCAN app or website to provide their information 72 hours prior to their arrival in the country.

On Wednesday, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority indicated that the operations are “getting better” after several months of cancelled flights, long lines and lost luggage.

“We’re seeing both labour being restored across the system at airlines and government agencies and we’re seeing processes improve,” President and CEO Deborah Flint said at the time.

Back in June, the GTAA welcomed the federal government’s decision to suspend on-site mandatory COVID-19 testing, predicting an influx of travellers during the summer months. Canada was warned that billions of dollars could be lost from tourism if the policy were to remain in place.

“We need to keep border testing measures in place because that is how we track importation of the COVID-19 virus, and of new variants of concern,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement. “We will keep adapting our border measures to balance the need to protect Canadians while supporting our economic recovery.

–with files from CTVnews.ca

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