Itziar Gonzalez, an international student in Toronto from Madrid who studies Human Resources at George Brown College, hadn’t been able to see family in Spain for about two years.
But the recent moves by Canada to ease restrictions on COVID-19 mandates for the fully vaccinated entering or leaving the country, is welcome news for her.
“International students are facing more difficulties to see family,” Gonzalez said. “I came to Canada in January 2020, I have not had the opportunity to return to Spain until December 2021. It was very stressful and I was worried about my family,”
She said she is now relieved that pre-entry COVID-19 testing is now not something she needs to be concerned about before coming back from visiting family.
“I was worried because my family is coming to visit me this summer in Canada, now it will be easier for them to enter the country, and they, or myself, won’t have to spend large amounts of money on PCR tests,” Gonzalez said.
Canada announced on March 17 that effective April 1, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need a pre-entry COVID-19 test to enter the country by air, land, or water.
Travellers arriving in Canada can still be selected at random to complete mandatory PCR COVID-19 testing.
The rules, however, remain for those partially vaccinated or unvaccinated. They will still need to arrive with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight departure.
Anyone entering Canada, regardless of vaccination status, needs to fill out the ArriveCAN questionnaire, either on the app or on the website.
Questionnaires must be filled out within 72 hours before boarding a flight to Canada.
“Adjustments to Canada’s border measures are made possible by a number of factors, including Canada’s high vaccination rate, the increasing availability and use of rapid tests to detect infection, decreasing hospitalizations and growing domestic availability of treatments for COVID-19,” said Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos.
“As vaccination levels and healthcare system capacity improve, we will continue to consider further easing of measures at the border,” he said.
To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, Pearson International Airport in Toronto has implemented several safety policies.
The policies include that all passengers and airport employees must always wear a mask and that baggage carts and kiosks are cleaned throughout the day.
The removal of testing has those working in the tourism field looking forward to traveling like it was pre-pandemic.
“The removal of testing is welcoming news for the travel industry and we see this as another positive sign for the aviation industry, it’s a step towards the recovery of travel,” said Rachel Bertone, spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.
“While restrictions are easing in a measured way, there are still additional health checks in place,” she said. “We suggest passengers come to the airport early, research their destination requirements and have all documents with them.”