TORONTO — Mandatory random COVID-19 testing resumed Tuesday for vaccinated travellers coming into Canada through four major airports.
But unlike in the past, the tests for select passengers landing in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal will be completed outside the airports, either through an in-person appointment or a virtual appointment for a self-swab test.
At Toronto’s Pearson airport, some questioned the need for the random tests.
‘”I don’t think its necessary,” said Sobia Sadiq, who arrived in Toronto from Houston, Texas, for a weeklong trip to visit her brother. “And if somebody has already traveled so far, and they unfortunately tested positive, then it’s unfair to them.”
Sadiq said she wasn’t selected for a random test and noted that her travel experience had been smooth.
Kerry Carstairs, who arrived on a flight from Newark, N.J., for a business trip, also said she had a good experience at the airport, despite bracing for issues.
“I was impressed with the technology, so didn’t really have to talk to a soul … then, just went to the first customs official, they asked me a few questions, and I was off,” she said, adding she was not selected for a random test.
Bill Mcdonald said he was off the plane and through customs in a “matter of minutes” after arriving in Toronto from Minneapolis, Minn., without being selected for a random test.
“It could’ve been time of day, not sure, but it was just perfect,” he added.
Ottawa paused the random testing of vaccinated travellers entering Canada by air last month as it worked to move the actual testing process to locations outside of airports.
At the time, the federal government faced mounting criticism from tourism and air travel industry groups that felt public health restrictions were to blame for the chaos at Canadian airports.
The situation at Canadian airports has remained chaotic at times since testing was put on hold.
Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo has previously said random mandatory testing is an important part of Canada’s strategy to detect new variants coming in to the country.
Travellers who are not fully vaccinated must test on both the first and eighth days of their mandatory 14-day quarantine, unless exempt.