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Canadian Government lifting African travel and quarantine measures to help “Contain Spread of Omicron”

One of the universal gripes Canadians of all political distinction have with the messaging from government on COVID19 measures is the messaging from government on COVID19 measures. During a public crisis it is important to be clear and succinct in updates so the public has the confidence needed to feel secure.

In a slightly confusing message, Canada’s public health agency made a statement that they are “announcing additional measures to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.” Upon further reading those additional measures are removing old measures and reducing oversight but are framed as “containment measures.”

The new containment strategy includes lifting the “extraordinary” measures for travelers returning from the ten specific countries initially listed as Omicron hotspots. This will be in effect as of December 18 at 11:59pm. “To help contain the spread PHAC and Government of Canada will now allow travelers to arrive from Botswana, Egypt;, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.”

“There is still a lot we don’t know about the Omicron variant, but we do know it is spreading fast. Because we can never be too vigilant when it comes to the safety and health of Canadians, we are updating our travel and border measures and are also working hand in hand with provinces and territories to help slow down the spread of the variant in communities across the country.”

Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health

In order to “never be too vigilant when it comes to the safety and health of Canadians” the updates to travel and border measure means that Canadians won’t need to stay in a designated quarantine facility while they await the results of their arrival test.

“The requirements for Canadians and others with right of entry who have been in or travelled from these countries within 14 days to obtain a valid negative pre-departure molecular test in a third country, and to stay in a designated quarantine facility, upon the direction of a quarantine officer, while they await the results of their arrival test, will also be lifted, said the Public Health Agency’s press release.

PHAC says the measures have served their purpose but do realize these additional containment measures ending containment measures will be controversial.

While we recognize the controversial nature of this measure, we believe it was necessary to slow the arrival of Omicron in Canada and buy us some time. Given the current situation, this measure has served its purpose and is no longer needed.

Public Health Agency of Canada

Lifting short trip pre-arrival test exemption

As another layer of precaution, the government will reinstate the requirement for a pre-arrival negative PCR test result for all travellers leaving the country for less than 72 hours. As of December 21, the requirement for pre-arrival testing will be in place again for trips of all durations. It is important to note that this pre-arrival test MUST be taken in a country other than Canada, said PHAC

Testing significantly increased

They have also “significantly increased” the on-arrival testing resources. We went from a capacity to test 11,000 air travellers a day on November 30 to 20,960 tests as of December 16. The Government of Canada is working with airport authorities, airlines, and testing providers and “many other partners” to increase capacity at airports, manage traveller flow and to make sure that the testing protocol is as efficient as possible.

Advice to travellers

As of December 15, the Government of Canada is continuing to advise Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada at this time. Travel restrictions continue to change around the world and return options could become limited at any time. Now is not the time to travel.

If they need to travel, all fully vaccinated travellers are asked to follow public health measures, including wearing a well-fitted and well-constructed mask, maintaining a list of contacts for the 14 days after entry to Canada, and exercising extra precautions by avoiding high-risk settings such as long-term care facilities. All returning unvaccinated travellers must continue to quarantine for 14 days.

“As we monitor the public health situation in Canada and around the world, we have to double-down on keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. We will continue to take the appropriate public health measures not only at our border but within our country and our communities. Keeping Canadians safe remains our absolute top priority.”

The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety

All travellers arriving, by all modes of travel, must submit their information into ArriveCAN. To reduce the wait time to access a test and ease congestion at airports, travellers allowed to enter Canada are strongly encouraged to pre-register with the testing provider at their arrival airport prior to coming to Canada.

The Government of Canada recognizes that changing border measures can pose challenges for individuals and families. All border measures will continue to be evaluated and are subject to adjustments based on the latest science, evidence, and data.

“The Government of Canada continues to take quick action based on science, to protect the health and safety of Canadians throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We must all work together to contain the spread of COVID-19 and this Omicron variant by following public health advice and getting vaccinated. We will not hesitate to introduce measures, as required, to keep travellers and transportation workers safe.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport


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