Canada's New Travel Rules Won't Apply To Every Country Just Yet & Here's Why

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While Canada’s new travel rules are set to kick in on January 7, 2021, some countries have been granted a temporary exemption by the federal government.

The new requirements were announced back in December, in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 from other countries into Canada.

Editor's Choice: Canada Just Updated Their Travel Advisories After COVID-19 Tests Became Mandatory

While all travellers entering Canada will eventually be required to show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight, some places have a little bit longer to get prepared.

What are the new rules?

In an announcement on December 30, the Government of Canada confirmed that the rules would be changing for all air passengers entering the country in 2021.

From January 7, anybody coming into Canada must show a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding a flight, regardless of their citizenship and the country they’re set to depart from.

The test must be conducted within 72 hours of the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada and must be one of two specific types of test — either a molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP).

Transport Canada says the reason for the rule update is to "help prevent air travel from being a source of further introduction and spread of COVID-19 and new variants of the virus into Canada."

It's not clear how long passengers will be required to do this for, as officials have not shared a potential end date to the process.

Which countries are exempt right now?

While the new rules will eventually apply to every country, there are some exceptions in the short-term.

In a statement on January 6, Transport Canada confirmed that travellers departing from Saint Pierre et Miquelon would be exempt from the negative COVID-19 test requirement until January 14, 2021.

Similarly, people departing from Haiti can enter Canada without the test until January 21, 2021.

Anybody flying to Canada from the Caribbean or South America is able to provide a test within 96 hours of departure (instead of 72 hours) until January 14, 2021.*

The delay in these spots is to account for certain COVID-19 testing limitations, according to CBC News.

“Travellers with planned flights to Canada are strongly encouraged to take note of this information, in order to be compliant with the requirements, and to avoid being refused boarding by the airline,” Transport Canada noted.

What about quarantine rules?

Despite this new requirement, the country’s quarantine rules are not changing.

All incoming passengers will still have to isolate for two weeks upon their arrival in Canada, per the Quarantine Act.

In fact, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has even said the government is prepared to get stricter when it comes to these requirements, too.

On December 30, he said officials are “prepared to invest in additional follow-ups with phone calls, and home visits, and door knocks and enforcement if necessary to ensure that compliance."

Days later, he tweeted to say that over 200 new border officers had been assigned to Canada's biggest airports in an attempt to keep the country “secure.”

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