As we previously reported, the Government of Canada recently ended all COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements as of October 1, 2022. However, due to a recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the People’s Republic of China, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has announced new temporary health measures, which will apply to travellers who are boarding a flight to Canada (but not those entering by land).

These temporary health measures came into effect effective at 12:01 a.m. EST on January 5, 2023. They apply to virtually all travellers, regardless of their nationality or vaccination status.

Canada’s new temporary health measures are similar (but not identical) to the United States’ COVID-19 testing requirement, announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an Order, which was published on December 30, 2022 (the CDC Order). The CDC Order also came into effect at 12:01 a.m. EST on January 5, 2023.

According to the PHAC news release, which was issued on December 31, 2022, the temporary health measures will apply to all travellers two years of age or older, who are boarding flights to Canada that originate from the People’s Republic of China, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, or the Special Administrative Region of Macau (collectively, China). However, unlike the CDC Order, they will not apply to travellers flying to Canada from other countries, even if they have been in China within the preceding ten days.

As of 12:01 a.m. EST on January 5, 2023, all air travellers two years of age and older, who are travelling to Canada on a flight originating from China, will need to provide evidence of one of the following to the airline prior to boarding their flight:

  • A negative result for a COVID-19 test taken no more than two days before their departure flight; or
  • A positive result for a COVID-19 test taken more than ten days but no more than 90 days before their departure flight (in lieu of a negative test result).

The COVID-19 test may be either a molecular test (such as a PCR test), or an antigen test accompanied by documentation to show that it was monitored by a telehealth service or an accredited laboratory or testing provider.

The CDC Order allows a traveller to board a flight to the United States, even if they have tested positive for COVID-19 ten or fewer days prior to the flight’s departure, if they also present a signed letter from a licenced healthcare provider or public health official stating that their systems began more than ten days before the flight’s departure. However, Canada’s new temporary health measures do not permit the boarding of a traveller who has tested positive for COVID-19 ten or fewer days prior to the flight’s departure.

In addition, air travellers will be asked if they have travelled to China in the last 10 days when arriving at Primary Inspection Kiosks and eGates, or when making a customs declaration using the optional Advance Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Declaration (available through ArriveCAN) prior to arriving at an airport in Canada. If they have, CBSA will provide them with additional public health information on COVID-19 transmission, personal protective measures, as well as further instructions in the event that they develop symptoms of COVID-19.

Airlines must receive a negative COVID-19 test result (taken no more than two days before the traveller boards the plane), or documentation of a positive test result (taken more than ten days but no more than 90 days before the traveller boards the plane). Otherwise, airlines will be required to deny boarding to the traveller.

The temporary health measures described above will be in place for a period of 30 days, and will be reassessed as more data and evidence becomes available.

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