VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The Canadian government’s announcement it is dropping the requirement for vaccinated travellers to show a negative COVID-19 test result to enter the country was greeted with relief by tourism and business groups on both sides of the border Thursday.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said tests will no longer be needed beginning April 1.
Currently, fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada must present proof of a negative result from a professionally administered antigen test.
The antigen test replaced the more costly and time-consuming molecular test in February.
Guy Occhiogrosso, president and chief executive officer of the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce in Washington state near the border with British Columbia, said the tests discouraged Canadians from crossing into the US for holidays and day shopping trips.
He estimates some local retail businesses saw a 30 per cent drop in business due to a lack of Canadian travellers.
“There have been some border businesses that have seen catastrophic losses,” he said.
Garry Douglas, president and CEO of the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh, N.Y., said the local region has over 100 Quebec-based businesses that employ 15 per cent of the workforce.
Incoming tourists will still need to be vaccinated to visit Canada, and all inbound travellers must also upload their details to the ArriveCan app.
Vaccinated people could also still be subject to random molecular tests when they arrive at Canadian airports.
Unvaccinated Canadians and other travellers who are exempt from the vaccine mandate will still need to provide a negative rapid antigen or molecular test, or an accepted form of proof of recent infection to enter the country.
Unvaccinated travellers will also be tested on arrival, again eight days later, and will be required to quarantine for 14 days.