Border-town mayors call for end to Canada’s COVID-19 test requirement for travellers

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Several border-town mayors on both sides of the Canada-US border held a virtual news conference Monday morning, asking Canada to phase out its pricey COVID-19 testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers.

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The event was held on the same day that the US, after a 19-month shutdown, reopened its land border to fully vaccinate recreational travelers.

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But the mayors of the border town said they weren’t celebrating yet, as a major obstacle for travelers still remained: When entering Canada, they would have to undergo a molecular test – such as a PCR test – Which can cost hundreds of dollars.

“There is now a way to cross, yet that route has been eroded by an unreasonable and costly requirement for PCR testing to return to Canada,” said Drew Dilkens, Mayor of Windsor, Ont., which borders Detroit. Is.

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“This PCR test requirement is a hard-stopping barrier to reunification of families except for Canada’s wealthiest, and it is unreasonable.”

Testing costs will hamper tourism, group says

Dilkens was joined at the news conference by the mayors of Niagara Falls, Ont., Niagara Falls, NY, and Sarnia, Ont., as well as U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins and a representative from the Hotel Association of Canada.

He argued that while the US land border is now open, the cost of Canada’s testing requirement would hinder the return of tourism on both sides of the border.

“When you tell a family that it will cost you another $1,000 to come to us and you won’t have a nice place to eat or a place to live, they choose not to. [come],” said Jim Diodati, Mayor of Niagara Falls, Ont.

When entering Canada, no matter how short their trip, travelers must take Pre-arrival molecular COVID-19 tests — such as a PCR test — can cost anywhere from $150 to $300. Sometimes travelers can get free or discounted tests, but they are not available in all parts of the US, and may not give results within the traveler’s time frame.

To help ease logistics problems for Canadians taking short trips, Canada now allows people to enter the US to take their exams in Canada and then use it upon their return – As long as it is less than 72 hours old.

But that doesn’t solve the housing cost problem, and Dilkens argues that the 72-hour window defeats the purpose of the testing requirement. This is because, he said, a Canadian could take his test in Canada, be exposed to COVID-19 while in the US, and then return home without any tests.

“The current system would allow anyone in Canada to do a PCR test, happy to cross into Detroit.” [Detroit Lions football team] with another 65,000 fans in the stadium, and then returned to Canada using the tests they did before leaving,” he said.

“How’s that test of any use?”

home travelers

Canada’s testing requirement first sparked complaints earlier this month when the US announced it would reopen its land border to fully vaccinated travelers on November 8, and would allow them to pre-arrival COVID-19. There will be no need to take the -19 test.

Although many Canadians are now planning to move to the US as the land border is open, others say they are staying there until the testing requirement ends.

“It’s like there’s a big wall erected there and I can’t climb it,” said Ted Hilton of Ingersoll, Ont. He longs to go to nearby Portage, Michigan, to visit family, but says he can’t afford the potential cost of testing to re-enter Canada.

“I’m 80, living off pension income, and it’s not in the budget.”

In pre-pandemic times, John Roberts and his wife, Linda, traveled to the US from their Toronto home about four times a year.

The couple had planned to go to Niagara Falls, NY on Saturday to do some shopping, but canceled their trip after realizing they had to take a COVID-19 test to return to Canada.

“You’d have to pay about $150 for the six-hour trip,” Roberts said. “There’s no point in costing extra for the trip. It’s going to stop people [from] crossing over.”

He added that the couple also withdrew from the trip as his wife finds the PCR test uncomfortable.

“Broom up the nose, she hates it.”

look | Travel cost to rise with easing of restrictions:

Canada reviewing testing requirement

At a news conference on Friday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the government was reviewing the need for testing.

“I think all of this needs to be re-examined because we are done with all the limit measures,” she said. “We wanted to take a cautious, phased approach.”

Tam gave no timeline for when the government would complete a review of its border rules.

some medical experts say The Canadian government should consider replacing its molecular testing requirement with a more convenient and inexpensive antigen test. These types of tests are generally less reliable but may be performed shortly before a traveler enters Canada.

“Doing an antigen test at the airport is probably even more accurate than a PCR test 72 hours ago, because you’re catching people who are infectious the moment they enter Canada,” Dr. Zayn Chagla, an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton.

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