Feb 17 (CNN) – Canada is easing Covid-19 testing regulations for travelers, the country’s health minister announced on Tuesday.
Starting February 28, the country will no longer require PCR tests for fully vaccinated travelers and will accept rapid tests, according to Federal Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos’ announcement.
Rapid tests may be taken the day before arriving in the country, and PCR tests can be taken 72 hours before a scheduled flight or arrival at the border.
Also, the Canadian government will no longer recommend that Canadians avoid nonessential travel.
“I am happy to announce these changes today, as I know many of us are looking forward to living with fewer restrictions. However, we must continue to exercise prudence,” Duclos said. “Let me be clear: Our fight against the virus is not over.”
Canada is also returning to a randomized testing surveillance program that was in place before the Omicron variant’s surge.
Moving forward, fully vaccinated travelers who are selected under the randomized testing system will no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting test results.
Restrictions for children 11 and younger who are not fully vaccinated and traveling with fully vaccinated parents will be lifted. Children who fall in this category will no longer need to self-isolate before attending school, daycare or camp. They also will no longer be subject to testing.
Duclos said that while the announcement is “encouraging,” all measures are subject to “constant re-evaluation.”
“Canada needs to be prepared to tackle future waves, future variants — which may or may not be smaller than this Omicron surge, depending on how the virus evolves,” he said.
Unvaccinated travelers will still be subjected to testing requirements and a 14-day quarantine.
Unvaccinated foreign nationals will not be permitted to enter Canada unless they meet one of the few exemptions.