Canada Reneges On Testing & Africa Travel Restrictions

Canadian travel restrictions have been ever-changing the past couple weeks: from removing the COVID-19 testing requirement for trips of less than 72 hours to introducing travel bans for several Southern African countries, to re-introducing on-arrival COVID-19 tests.

On this front, the latest news is twofold: the testing requirement for short trips will once again be reimplemented, while the travel ban on African countries will soon be removed.

COVID-19 Testing To Be Required for Short Trips

Since November 30, the COVID-19 testing requirement has been relaxed for all international travellers who have been away from the country for less than 72 hours.

Of course, that rule had been introduced when COVID-19 rates were decreasing across the country, and before we learned of newest Omicron variant.

However, as of December 21, 2021, international travellers who have left the country for less than 72 hours will no longer be exempt from COVID-19 testing. The exemption will have been in place for exactly three weeks.

To expand on this, the COVID-19 molecular test will need to be performed in a country other than Canada.

Before the exemption was introduced, it was actually allowed to perform the test that you’d use to re-enter Canada while you were in Canada – there was even an option in the ArriveCAN app that allowed you to select Canada as where your pre-arrival test was done.

Make no mistake, this will soon act as a major roadblock for Canadians making short trips abroad, considering that molecular tests often have a turnaround of a minimum of 24 hours. Those who embark on day trips will either have to pay for a rapid-turnaround PCR test or take a RT-LAMP molecular test instead, which has a much quicker turnaround within the hour.

However, RT-LAMP tests are not as common as PCR tests, and are more difficult to locate. The good news is that they’re frequently available in the United States at Walgreens and CVS: but again, you must be diligent in checking whether the local pharmacy offers this kind of COVID-19 testing.

Still, on a day trip, I consider having to drive to Walgreens and take a drive-through test quite bothersome, and I’d view this as a major roadblock for those popular shopping trips to places like Buffalo, Seattle, or Niagara Falls, NY.

Whereas it was briefly possible for Canadians to embark on test-free weekend trips to, say, Mexico for the first three weeks of December 2021, now you’ll probably want to bring along a Switch Health COVID-19 RT-LAMP Test Kit to guarantee a quick turnaround.

Travel Ban on African Countries Ending

As of December 18, 2021, Canada will be dropping its the travel ban on ten African countries: Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. This is a quick reversal of an ill-considered original policy, which I find quite encouraging to see.

From the beginning, the World Health Organization (WHO) took the stance that closing borders does not protect against new variants being imported and spreading within a country. Indeed, that’s exactly what has occurred here in Canada as well as many other countries around the globe.

The lifting of the travel ban means that all travellers arriving in Canada from one the aforementioned African countries no longer have unique testing requirements such as taking a COVID-19 test at their final transit point. They can now enter with any approved test as long as it was taken in the last 72 hours of departure of their final leg, the same as all international travellers.

It’s worth noting that Canada is one of the first countries to drop its travel ban on African countries so far, following the United Kingdom.

The Current State of Travel

Also worth noting this week, Canada has once again put in place a Level 3 Travel Advisory advising against all non-essential travel.

Just as in March 2020, this does not prevent anyone from exiting Canada. Rather, the most practical implications lie with your insurance policies — emergency medical insurance from credit cards, for example, are conditional on there being no such travel advisories in place.

For those planning to push ahead with international travel around Christmas, make sure you have travel insurance either through work, school, or a separately purchased policy.

Keep in mind that on-arrival COVID-19 testing continues to be required for all travellers arriving from anywhere other than the United States. Meanwhile, those arriving from the United States may be selected for random testing at a higher frequency than before.

As we’ve reiterated many times, while it’s understandable to see tighter travel policies in recognition of the emerging Omicron variant, the travel industry contributes much less to the variant’s spread than what’s often attributed to it in public discourse.

For governments, the focus should remain on rolling out booster shots for the general populace and vaccinating the entire globe, in order to minimize the impact of the Omicron variant and prevent more dangerous variants from forming.

Conclusion

It’s good to see Canada removing the travel ban from Southern African countries, given the prevalence of the Omicron variant all around the globe now.

Meanwhile, another new travel policy that has been revoked is the exemption of COVID-19 testing for international trips of less than 72 hours. Beginning December 21, 2021, all travellers must present a COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours to re-enter Canada, and the test must be taken in a foreign country. 

While the story of travel in 2021 ends on a relatively muted note, it’s important that we all do our utmost to keep each other safe this holiday season so that we can look forward to a gradual return to normal in 2022.

8 Comments
  1. Justin

    “As we’ve reiterated many times, while it’s understandable to see tighter travel policies in recognition of the emerging Omicron variant, the travel industry contributes much less to the variant’s spread than what’s often attributed to it in public discourse.”

    Ricky, you are completely FULL OF SHIT. The only reason the virus left China was due to travel. The only reason variants have gone from South Africa to Canada, or Brazil to Canada, or Canada to Germany, or wherever else, is because TRAVELLERS are carrying the versions of the virus with them on airplanes and trains.

    If anybody should have caught COVID by now it should be you, instead of the grandparents in nursing homes and the parents working in hospitals as nurses doctors and cleaning staff.

    Every single case of COVID in Canada is linked back to people who brought the virus here from elsewhere. Every single case of COVID in China (as far as science knows) is linked to people who brought the early COVID viruses from Wuhan (by travelling on trains and planes).

    Stop with your bullshit ‘travelling isn’t a high risk of spreading Covid variants like the media says’ PR and marketing for ‘Travel Influencers’ and the airline industry. Stop with your pandering about COVID not spreading on planes or in airports.

    Thanks to selfish people who refuse to follow stay at home rules and guidance, this pandemic will never end. Selfish jerks won’t stop travelling, won’t stop promoting travelling, won’t stop selling travel tickets and packages, and won’t be responsible for the pain and misery they indirectly cause everyone else through their selfish actions.

    Good job Ricky, keep on complaining about audacious travel restrictions. My dead grandparents are entirely sympathetic with your struggle to fly Air France La Premiere during the pandemic and the truly horrendous discrimination you have received as a travel influencer trying to travel.

    How unfair and unjust the Canadian, European, Asian and global governments are to discriminate against you and make travelling into their countries more difficult during a respiratory disease pandemic.

    Why can’t they think about Ricky and how his points, hotel and flight reviewing business is suffering when he can’t as easily convince people to spend points on trips and apply for cards through his referrals.

    The great thing for you Ricky is that people are so mentally exhausted, tired and depressed that more and more of them are starting to give up and not even try anymore. Look on the bright side buddy, more people will be ignoring restrictions by the week, travel is back baby!!

    Except for you travel never really ended eh? That’s okay though. I’m sure it can be justified because you were being tested and isolating… and not finding ways to avoid testing or isolation measures whenever loop holes were available.

    Enjoy your travels to Europe and Asia and the Caribbean and elsewhere Ricky!! Hope you don’t get kill anybody by making them sick! Some people you encourage to travel will probably spread the disease to others and result in their deaths, but hey, that’s not your problem. It’s not on your conscience either cuz it could have been from anything and anyone right?

    Good for you Ricky. Keep your conscience clean. You’ve done nothing wrong and the rules shouldn’t apply to you. The Hong Kong authorities treated you barbarically by making you quarantine during your China visit. How dare they ruin your vacation!!! …Sorry I mean mourning period for your relative. That was the purpose of the trip, not a vacation across China when a emergency visa was made available to you.

    COVID is inevitable so we should just live with it. After all, that’s what idiots who kept travelling for the last 2 years have made inevitable for all of us. More Covid variants, more sickness and more death! Hooray!!!

    It’s not travellers who are the problem, it’s the people who have been staying at home trying to contain the spread of the virus. Ricky, they should have realized it was futile in the first place and that you would be snagging up some heavily discounted hotels and airfares while they were being the real idiots.

    Thanks Ricky for all your hard work making sure everybody knows that travelling during the pandemic wasn’t the issue. It was everything and everybody else.

    Bon voyage!

    1. Trav YOW

      I feel very bad for you, Justin. It is terrible to lose people close to you.
      But if you have bought anything online, or at grocery store, or damn near anywhere, it has come cross border. Travelers aren’t the cause of the pandemic, nor are they the reason it continues. That honour goes to those who choose not to get vaccinated.
      It’s OK if you don’t agree with people traveling for personal reasons, but there is no objective data to support that hypothesis.

    2. Grandma Traveler

      Assuming you’re not a troll, I wholeheartedly wish that you can soon meet your grandparents again.

    3. Ricky YVR

      Actually, my grandpa’s doing just fine, thank you very much.

    4. Mark

      Sounds like you need to visit a lockdown website instead of a travel website

  2. Gwen Nielsen

    So if test need to be taken Ina a country other than Canada, how does the Switch Health Lamp self test forfil that requirement when technically the test the results are bring issued by a Canadian company?

    1. Gwen Nielsen

      Not sure how to correct my typos…sorry..lol

  3. Al

    Again, overreach and overreaction by the govt. nothing seems to slow the spread, even vaccination. It seems this is the natural progression of viruses; more contagious but less powerful. According to Gates this will petter out soon. He said 2 years. April will be 2 years.

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