How some Canadian travellers are getting free COVID-19 tests in the U.S. to return home

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When Ian Hutchian inquired last month about receiving a COVID-19 test at a Walgreens pharmacy in Gold Canyon, Ariz., before his flight home to Calgary, he had a pleasant surprise.

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“I asked to speak to the pharmacist, who said, ‘Oh, we can test you for free,'” Hutchian said. “I was a little unreliable, but he insisted.”

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For travelers entering Canada a . must give proof of Negative molecular COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their entry. And those molecular tests — such as the popular PCR test — can cost hundreds of dollars.

As a result, Canada’s testing requirement is protest broke out From politicians and tourism groups on both sides of the Canada-US border, who complain that the tests may be cost-prohibitive.

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But businesshala News interviewed six Canadians who had recently traveled to the US, and received a free molecular test at a pharmacy or clinic before returning to Canada.

“It’s surprising to think that people are paying $200 for those tests,” said Andrew D’Amours, co-founder of travel information website Flytrippers.

Trois-Rivires, Q. Kay D’Amours has three free trials in the US and written about the subject for his site.

“It’s so easy to get it for free,” he said.

However, there are some caveats: travelers cannot be guaranteed to receive their test results on time, and they may not get free tests at their US destination.

But the stars aligned for Hutchian and his wife, Colleen McMeachan. At Walgreens, they each took a self-administered free nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) test, which is listed as one. approved test by the Government of Canada.

The couple, who had booked their tests online the day before, listed their hotel when asked to provide the address. Hutchian said he didn’t face any problems when he drove his rental car to Walgreens to be tested the next day at the pharmacy’s drive-thru testing site.

“He took the swab and about two hours later, the results appeared in my email inbox,” he said. “We printed them out and took them with us to the airport and it was all smooth sailing.”

Why are trials free?

The tests Hutchian and other Canadian travelers received are not actually free, but funded by the US government. It has taken measures to make Low- or no-cost COVID-19 testing available to all In the US, including those who do not have US medical insurance.

“They want people to be tested,” said Jeremy Gelbart, co-founder of BeeperMD, a COVID-19 testing company that visits people’s homes – or hotel rooms – to provide free pcr test, (However, individuals who have booked the same day exam for an individual will have to pay the booking fee.)

look | US land border reopens:

BeeperMD serves customers in New York City and most areas of Florida. Gelbart said the company has already provided free tests to thousands of Canadian travelers, including Snowbirds.

BeeperMD typically provides test results within 36 hours and will make every effort to ensure that travelers get their results within Canada’s required 72-hour window, he said. But he cautioned that there are no guarantees for non-paying customers.

As a precaution, Gelbart advises travelers to book their free trials a few days in advance.

“If people are ready, they will be fine,” he said. “We try to be as friendly as possible.”

Accelerated NAAT Test

Four Canadian interviewees used the Walgreens drive-thru site to take a free, self-administered NAAT test, which the pharmacy chain calls the ID Now test. Every passenger said that they booked their test online at least a day in advance and got their result within three hours of the test.

D’Amours takes the NAAT exam twice at Walgreens: once in May in Newark, NJ, and a second time on Sundays in Baton Rouge, La. He added that NAAT tests are the best option for Canadians, as they provide quick results.

“I would say it’s a game changer.”

Walgreens did not respond to requests for comment. Although Pharmacy chain website It states that this no-cost COVID-19 . provides Testing at select locations

It also states that PCR test results are usually provided within 48 hours, but without guarantee. However, its NAAT test is done on site, and results are available within 24 hours.

Walgreens also states that customers are required to provide a valid state ID or driver’s license and insurance card.

None of the people interviewed by businesshala said they had been refused a Canadian driver’s license and US-based medical insurance.

“we just [showed] ID our Canadian driver’s license and it works perfectly fine,” said Haris Naeem Nini of Milton, Ont.. He and his wife, Mary Haris, each drove for free in May at the Walgreens Drive-Thru in the Buffalo area. Received NAAT test.

Walgreens says customers can only get tested by car through a drive-thru. Nini said the couple did not have a vehicle, so they passed through the drive-thru in an Uber.

“The experience was a breeze and apparently didn’t cost us anything – except the Uber ride.”

In September, Delores Davidson also received a free test, but she went to a CVS pharmacy drive-thru in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and received a PCR test. She said that she had to book her appointment online and it took around 24 hours to get the results.

“It was quick and easy,” said Davidson, who lives in Calgary. “We never paid. We were never charged.”

CVS also did not respond to requests for comment.

free trial alert

D’Amours cautions that NAAT/ID Now tests are not available at all Walgreen locations, so Canadians should check online before planning a US trip. He added that passengers may have to book their free test several days in advance to secure an appointment.

D’Amours further advises travelers to stay informed during their travels – in case the US suddenly changes its no-cost test policy. “You never know, with America [land] Reopening the border, will they get a lot of Canadians and decide to end it?”

Another passenger has also been warned.

Petar Cesar of London, Ont., said she and her fiancé, Mara Bakula, tried to get a free PCR test done at a CVS in Cleveland in August, but were told it would take at least four days to get their results.

“I said, ‘How long will that take, because we plan to go to Canada tomorrow,'” Cesar said. “They laughed at us when we suggested we use the test results to make the trip.”

The couple paid US$200 each to the clinic for a PCR test with guaranteed quick results.

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