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Dropping PCR test for short trips for Canadians not enough: Roundtable

Following the recent announcement by the Canadian government about the removal of the pre-departure PCR testing requirement for Canadians returning from the United States for trips less than 72 hours; the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable (CTTR) is calling on the federal government to follow the advice of its COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel (Expert Panel) and entirely remove the testing requirement for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada.

According to a statement by the CTTR, the industry welcomes the decision to recognize WHO-approved vaccines, which supports the sector's recovery. However, “while [the removal of PCR testing for short trips] marks a very small step in the right direction, it does not go far enough to help rebuild an industry devasted by COVID-19 pandemic.”

The government is trying to solve one problem by creating another. The CTTR argues that removing the PCR test requirement for trips less than 72 hours creates a significant disadvantage for Canadian businesses that rely on American travel into Canada by effectively incentivizing one-way travel south of the border. Canadians can now travel cross-border to do their weekend holiday shopping without needing a test, but Americans looking to travel north will still be subject to testing.

"Canada stands alone as the only country in the world that is basing its travel rules on trip duration rather than vaccination status. To help rebuild Canada's tourism industry we need testing requirements that are consistent with those in place in other countries. And we need to harmonize those requirements across all modes of transportation be it by plane, car, boat, coach or train," said Beth Potter, Co-Chair of the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable and President & CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

"In effect, today's announcement opens the door to Canadians looking to support U.S. businesses like malls, hotels, and airports in advance of the holiday season, while firmly closing the door on Americans looking to visit Canada and support our domestic businesses, who are struggling after nearly two-years of pandemic closures. All American travellers looking to visit Canada still require a pre-departure PCR test to visit Canada," said Perrin Beatty, Co-Chair of the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable and President & CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

In addition, the Roundtable is calling for an amendment to the discriminatory child policy for travelling minors which effectively requires them to quarantine from school or daycare for two weeks. These policies were intended to be temporary and are counter to the federal government's COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel Report and stifle the rebuilding of the travel and tourism sector across this country which the government recognizes has been the hardest hit.

Travel is now one of the safest activities in Canada as the transportation sector has become one of the few sectors requiring fully vaccinated employees and customers. To that end, it is time for the federal government to immediately re-open the border to all fully vaccinated travellers. The economy and Canadian families depend on it.