Mandatory random COVID-19 testing resumed on 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 it’s necessary,” said Sobia Sadiq, who arrived in Toronto from Houston, Texas, to visit her brother. “And if somebody has already travelled so far, and they unfortunately tested positive, then it’s unfair to them.”
Ms. Sadiq said she wasn’t selected for a random test and noted that her travel experience had been smooth.
Rasha Bassyouni, who returned to Toronto from a wedding in Dallas, said she was previously ambivalent about the random tests but now supports the measure after witnessing how quickly the virus spread among some members of her family.
“It’s only five minutes of your own time,” said Ms. Bassyouni, who worked as a physician in Egypt before moving to Canada. “And this is for your own safety, for your family’s safety, and for the Canadian safety.”
Deputy chief public-health officer Dr. Howard Njoo has said random mandatory testing is an important part of Canada’s strategy to detect new variants coming in to the country.
Fully vaccinated travellers selected for random testing will receive an e-mail notification within 15 minutes of completing their customs declaration, the federal government has said. That e-mail will contain information to help them arrange a test in their region.
Those who test positive must isolate for 10 days. The federal government says the 10-day isolation is required even if the isolation requirement is shorter in the province or territory where the traveller has landed.
Ottawa had 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, although several travellers arriving in Toronto on Tuesday said they had not faced issues despite bracing for problems.
Kerry Carstairs, who arrived on a flight from Newark, N.J., for a business trip, said she had a good experience at the airport.
“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.
Travellers who are not fully vaccinated must test for COVID-19 on both the first and eighth days of their mandatory 14-day quarantine, unless exempt.
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