Government of Canada announces additional measures to contain the spread of the Omicron variant
December 17, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario - Government of Canada
In response to the significant risks and uncertainties presented by the spread of the Omicron variant in Canada and globally, today the Minister of Health, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos announced further adjustments to travel and border measures. These measures, guided by prudence, are intended to reduce the transmission of the Omicron variant in Canada and to help provinces and territories slow community spread.
Lifting entry prohibitions
With the evolving situation and overwhelming evidence of community transmission of Omicron in most countries around the world, including Canada, the Government of Canada has decided to lift the extraordinary measures for travellers returning from the ten specific countries initially listed. This will be in effect as of December 18 at 11:59pm.
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.
Similarly, 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.
Lifting short trip pre-arrival test exemption
As another layer of precaution, we 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.
We 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 closely 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 advising 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.
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.
"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."
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
"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
"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
- Canadians who live in British Columbia can benefit from certain exemption to the border and travel measures at the Canada-US border, in an effort to support those affected by the floods in the region.
- If Canadians must travel, they need to expect delays, which are likely to become worse during the holiday period. Restrictions are changing quickly and may be imposed by countries with little warning. Should Canadians choose to travel outside Canada, they need to recognize travel plans may be severely disrupted and they may be forced to remain outside of Canada longer than expected. Canadians should not depend on the Government of Canada for assistance related to changes to travel plans.
- ArriveCAN remains mandatory for all travellers, regardless if entering by land/air/marine or the length of the duration of absence from Canada. All travellers must submit their mandatory information in ArriveCAN (free mobile app or website), including proof of vaccination in English or French and a quarantine plan before arriving in Canada.
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Public Health Agency of Canada
Transport Canada, Ottawa
Public Safety Canada
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