Canada’s plan to require COVID-19 tests for all but US arrivals on international flights risks causing “chaos” and long queues if all passengers are expected to be tested at airports, industry groups said.
The move, which was announced on Tuesday, comes as the travel season picks up gear and can stretch the airport’s resources as well as test holidaymakers’ patience, they said.
Daniel Gooch, chairman of the Canadian Airports Council, said airports could not test all overseas arrivals on site without long waits.
“Do we really want people waiting for hours for a test in a customs hall?” he asked on the phone Wednesday.
“We want to avoid chaos. And we want to ensure that travelers who have booked travel are comfortable to travel. ”
Omicron variant: Canada extends travel ban, seeks booster guidance
Canada said Tuesday that it will require people arriving internationally by plane, except from the United States, to take a COVID-19 test to try to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.
Currently, only randomly selected passengers from international flights are tested at airports by private companies with which the state has entered into a contract.
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The announcement came as the country’s aviation sector, hit by the pandemic, had been looking forward to a stronger holiday season this year.
Omicron variant travel rule concerns
Canadian public health authorities did not say on Wednesday when the policy will take effect, who will administer the tests, or whether the tests will be administered on-site or through kits with home.
Airports are pushing for the latter.
Tori Gass, a spokesman for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport – Canada’s largest – said in an email that “a combination of on-site and off-airport tests should be considered to accommodate the amount of tests envisaged.”
Some travelers, who had meanwhile hurried to book travel in the midst of loosening the restrictions just weeks before, were in doubt.
“I know various customers who have decided to cancel and are now looking at what refunds they will be able to get,” Marty Firestone said with Travel Secure Insurance, adding that the travel landscape had improved.
“Now we have taken two steps back,” he said.
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