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Canada to Allow Rapid COVID-19 Tests for Entry, Paving the Way for Simpler Border Protocols

Credit: Mert Alper Dervis/Getty Images

Canada will make it simpler for visitors to enter the country later this month by allowing travelers to take a rapid antigen test before arrival rather than a PCR test.

Starting Feb. 28, fully vaccinated travelers will be able to choose between getting tested with a rapid antigen test taken the day before their flight or arrival at a land or marine border, or getting tested with a molecular test (like a PCR) taken within 72 hours of their flight or arrival, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Previously, all travelers 5 and older were required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of their flight or arrival by car.

Those who choose to take a rapid antigen test must do so at a laboratory, healthcare facility, or with a telehealth service.

"For two years now, our government's actions in the fight against COVID-19 have been based on prudence and science. Today's announcements are a reflection of the progress we have made against this current Omicron variant," Canada's Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement. "As we have said all along, Canada's border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, for potential future scenarios."

As part of the updated protocols, travelers will also be randomly selected for additional testing upon arrival, but will not have to quarantine while waiting for their test results. Travelers must also submit their proof of vaccination and a potential quarantine plan on the ArriveCAN app or website.

Unvaccinated travelers who are allowed to enter Canada will still have to get tested upon arrival, get tested again on day 8 of their trip, and quarantine for 14 days.

Additionally, on Feb. 28, Canada will begin to allow international flights to land at any international airport in the country.

Canada first started allowing vaccinated American tourists to enter last August while the United States opened its land border with Canada on Nov. 8.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies Canada as a "Level 4" destination, indicating a "very high" level of COVID-19 transmission in the country and warning Americans to "avoid" traveling there.

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