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Canada brings back random Covid testing for arrivals

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If you are planning to fly to Canada this Summer, you need to be aware that random Covid testing has returned for international arrivals at four Canadian airports:

  • Vancouver
  • Calgary
  • Montreal
  • Toronto
Canada brings back Covid testing for arrivals

It is not clear what percentage of passengers will be chosen for testing or whether the decision will be weighted by the perceived risk of origin point of the incoming flight.

Anyone testing positive following a random test will have to undergo 10 days of quarantine.

There is no exemption from random testing for fully vaccinated travellers. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated would, in any case, be placed into 14 day quarantine on arrival.

Testing will not be done at the airport. You will be notified at the airport if you have been selected, and then have until the end of the following calendar day to take a supervised test.

The official details are on the Canadian Government website here.

Comments (89)

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  • Mike says:

    With COVID rates rising here too the introduction of random Covid testing for international arrivals might be a good idea.

    • Mike says:

      It’s a terrible idea, say you test 10%, 90% of cases will slip through. Either way they spent 7-10 hours in a metal tube and a day or so in Canada whilst infected.

      COVID is endemic unless there’s a serious mutation with a significant death rate there’s literally no reason for the testing. It adds no value.

      This is Trudeau and his cronies being obsessed with the power that came from COVID policies. Some countries are still fining people for not being vaccinated. I certainly wouldn’t fly into Canada with this policy in place, it’s worst than just requiring a test before boarding for all passengers.

      People don’t seem to understand the risks of COVID, even today I saw people wearing masks outside, and this isn’t just outside a building, literally walking around outside. I can understand people who may have a compromised immune systems wearing a mask when inside, outside is just bonkers. We even have evidence now that mask wearing has its own risks, so wear inside if appropriate for your circumstances but outside….

    • Track says:

      Can’t believe we are back to this nuts mentality.

      Random testing, random documents checks, random pat-downs are all jolly good!

      So are the lockdowns, overwrites of human rights and generally not allowing one to leave the house — all were considered very good ideas.. except that we are and will be paying for them with cost of living, inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, ensuing global instability, more taxes to cover public borrowing… infrastructure not working, Tube bankrupt, Heathrow short on staff and unable to process passengers, rail strikes and many more. God forbid, even public sector pay and pensions will to receive the triple lock increases!

    • Frankie says:

      Covid rates are not rising here. Look at the government dashboard.

    • Andrew says:

      Covid rates are already falling (despite no additional restrictions). Irrespective of that what’s the point in keeping out a few thousand cases in tourists when you’ve already got several million domestic cases?

      This is going to be the position going forwards now forever. Rates will rise a bit and then fall back. We can either accept that or panic each time and live in a perpetual state of disruption.

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      Whilst the lunatics remain in charge in Canada and New Zealand, best to not plan anything in either

      • Derek Broughton says:

        It _is_ nuts, because we fly into Halifax and there’s no testing, but random testing is absolutely not about catching everything, it’s about determining whether across the board testing needs to be reinstated — though THAT probably only needs 1% random tests, not 10%.

        As for the assertions that “rates are falling”, I call BS. They’re well on their way to a new spike across the country.

        • Mike says:

          It doesn’t matter if random testing is 0.1% or 50%, it’s a stupid idea if it is accompanied by quarantine (the 10% number was to illustrate that 90% of infections would get through and OBVIOUSLY not that I believed that testing would be at a 10% level, the testing % would depend on what level of significance they were after based on the traveller numbers). If it was just for statistical purposes, fine, let’s understand how the visitor COVID rates compare with native ones and to look for variants etc. with random anonymous testing. However, with this policy you can look for to a chance of spending your entire trip in quarantine. If it was for “determining whether…” then it wouldn’t come with 10 days of quarantine. It’s a stupid plan.

  • Chatles Martel says:

    If Priority Pass have sold so many memberships that customers can’t gain access and Amex, Natwest, etc are suffering repetitional damage to their own product shouldn’t they be asking for a discount on the fee until they resolve capacity issues? Offering a £/$15 food and beverage credit seems like the least that could be done in the interim; I’m pretty sure I consume more than that on most visits.

    • Tracey says:

      NatWest moved to dragon pass a few years ago. Not sure if that effects your chances of admission, but the app is terrible and their helpline worse than BAs

      • Rob says:

        NatWest did write to Black account holders to specifically tell them that they could now access the Plaza lounge in T5 as a new benefit, when DragonPass came in.

      • Colin Thames says:

        Barclays also uses DragonPass for their Travel Plus add-on (£18 a month) which includes just 6 free entries. Same capacity problems as PP though at the lounges. As Rob mentions, though only plus is access to the Plaza Lounge at T5. Have never been turned away from there, whereas the one at the other end (Aspire?) almost always does or offers to put you on a waitlist.

  • AndyGWP says:

    Re: Canada – I read that “you are selected for random testing by email within 15 minutes of submitting your customs declaration”

    I’ve never been to Canada before – how / where is this collected – on arrival at kiosks?

    Looking forward to Wednesdays trip already 🤦🏼‍♂️ I had kinda hoped the temporary suspension would be extended for ease of mind 🥴

    • The real Swiss Tony says:

      So, let’s just say you make a typo (accidental or deliberate) on your e-mail address. That “0” is an “O” or something. What happens then? You get the police paying your hotel a visit? You get blocked from leaving the country? All because someone mis-keyed your e-mail address?

      Bonkers policy indeed and if this e-mail route is correct then that’s an equally stupid execution. Let’s hope this isn’t the start of a slippery slope, as I’m due to touch six very different countries over the next eight weeks.

      • AndyGWP says:

        Indeed. It also presumes you have:
        – an email address
        – access to your email

        (It was Business Traveller that reported this is how it would be done)

      • Derek Broughton says:

        At any of those airports (possibly all Canadian international airports by now) you fill in the customs declaration before the immigration kiosk, at a machine that looks just like the automated check-in at Heathrow.

        You quite possibly would get police visiting your hotel room. They certainly came to check on me (at home) in 2020 when we had mandatory quarantines.

        But yeah, the execution is stupid — just like the mandatory ArriveCan registration that is frustrating seniors crossing the land border.

        It would be far better to tie it to the ArriveCan app (without which you’re not getting on the plane), and notify people before they ever board if they’re going to need a test.

    • E says:

      If you get an email saying you’re selected you have to go to a testing centre by the end of the next day to get tested. You don’t get tested at the airport as they have moved the arrivals testing out of the airports to reduce congestion on arrival. (!)

      The testing centre for Vancouver airport arrival is in Richmond so it’s not at the airport and not centrally in the city. Not sure if that’s the case for other airports. Once you’ve bene tested they have up to 4 days to return your result.

      • AndyGWP says:

        Apologies. I meant where / how is the customs declaration collected. Is it on arrival at kiosks?

        • Marc says:

          You still have to fill in the ArriveCAN form so I suppose that’s how they have your email. And make sure there’s no typo.

        • SLLee says:

          There is no physical form to fill in. Upon arrival, just before the immigration counters, there are electronic terminals/kiosks. You complete your immigration/customs declaration electronically there. Your photo is also taken. Then, a small printout comes out. Take this and your passport to the immigration officer. Hang on to the printout, because after collecting your bags and on exiting the airside, you handover the printout to the Custom officer.

          ArriveCan is a different thing. You have to complete ArriveCan BEFORE you check-in for your flight to Canada.

    • Lesley Still says:

      The random testing is not new per se – they suspended for a few weeks due to inbound delays and lack of staff.

      As a regular visitor to Toronto, I knew it was due to be reinstated once staffing levels improved and queues calmed a little. Deep joy ..not!!

  • Iain says:

    Has anyone used PP to access the No.1 Lounge at LGW South recently? I recall there was a time when you had to pay the pre-booking fee to get access. Is it still like that or can you just turn up? I’d be arriving at around midday.

    • cats_are_best says:

      I was in LGW S midday Wednesday, on BA so used their lounge, airside the terminal was pretty crowded.

      I’d guess No 1 will be busy enough to require pre-booking for PP access.

      • Iain says:

        Thanks – we’retravellingon a Wednesdayso that’s helpful. I’ll be using BA lounge and will guest someone in but partner will use her PP so probably wise that we prebook.

        • Steve in Croydon says:

          I went to No1 at LGW South on 23rd May. I have Amex Plat and a free PP. I pre-booked for £6 which included the priority security lane. When I got through the lounge was VERY busy and I suspect that I would not have got in without the booking. The security queue was 200-300 metres long snaking around the whole check-in area. Everyone was being filtered up one escalator. Upstairs there was another 50m queue for security but at this point you can slip down the left-hand side for the priority security, which had no queue – straight through. The main security area was going flat-out with all machines open and manned. Total time to get through the queues was c30 minutes. There were queue-combers continually calling out people whose flights left within 60 minutes. The No1 was busy, staff running around to keep up and lots of tables not being cleared. I wasn’t impressed for my first use of the Amex PP “benefit”.

          • Steve in Croydon says:

            And since then all I’ve heard is that things are getting worse in all areas. This was a week before the disaster of half-term and the rapid downhill slide since!

          • Lady London says:

            lack of table-clearing has been a weakness of no.1 North LGW most times I’ve been there. There is just not enough staff on the task.

  • Klaus says:

    Is the grain store open again? Last I passed through it was very much shut

    • Rob says:

      Yes

    • Lottie says:

      The grain store is open but when we went last week it wasn’t serving food. Sign on the door saying due to lack of staff they had a drinks service only.

    • brian says:

      I was there around this time last month and it was so badly operated I’m not sure it was worth the hassle. Massive queue outside the restaurant even though there were at about 25% capacity. Once finally sitting down we were told it was breakfast menu only.

      I’m assuming they had newly hired staff who were struggling since they opened at the start of June. By the sounds of it they’ve had more staffing issues since then and are only serving drinks now.

  • x2000traveller says:

    But if one arrives at Halifax, Ottawa or Winnipeg there’s no Mandatory Random Testing? Great way of boosting regional airports!

  • John says:

    Seems to me that Amex should ditch PP and instead offer a rebate on lounge fees billed to the card. This would remove a middle man (PP reselling Collinson) and provide cardholders with guaranteed (reserved) lounge access.

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      Mind is blown. But why would they pay to guarantee a benefit when they can fob off with patchily usable PP. I think there’s also something in behavioural economics re people’s propensity to go for the upfront ‘free’ PP rather than pay and rebate model. I love the idea though.

  • Chad McChadface says:

    More chance of selling your kidney than getting into any UK priority pass lounge.

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      MAN Escape T3 keeps a standing sign by the door, ready for opening time every morning that says “This lounge is fully booked. Access may be possible for BA Club Europe and eligible elite status holders, but only when travelling to Heathrow.” It’s in effect stepped itself out of the lounge card systems.

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