Joe Biden announces change in light of Omicron’s emergence
Flying to the United States is going to be a little more complicated.
All international air travelers – Canadians included – must provide proof of a negative COVID test done 24 hours prior to arrival in the United States.
The White House’s new measure coincides with the emergence of the Omicron version raising more questions about the next phase of the pandemic.
“I am announcing today that all incoming international travelers, regardless of their vaccination status or nationality, must be tested within one day of departure,” US President Joe Biden said on Thursday.
He added that the move “offers an additional degree of security as scientists continue to study the Omicron variant.”
Under the current system, international travelers had to test negative three days before leaving for the US
Right now, there are no such testing requirements for fully vaccinated Canadians crossing into the US from the ground.
For those re-entering Canada at land border crossings – for trips lasting less than 72 hours – there is no test requirement.
Meanwhile, Canada has so far exempted US visitors from stringent new rules that require all other foreign air travelers to be tested on arrival and self-isolate while awaiting results.
Those rules were announced on Tuesday due to concerns about the spread of the Omicron version.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the government would consult with provinces and territories on whether to impose similar measures on visitors from the US.
It was not clear whether a decision was imminent.
The travel industry, which relies on a steady, free flow of people between Canada and the US, is concerned.
“It is critical that any further government response is founded in science,” Ontario Chief Executive Officer of Festivals and Events Dave McNeill said in a statement.
“After 21 months of shutdowns, restrictions and uncertainty that have decimated the tourism and travel industry, we must ensure that we work to protect both the health of our province and the health of our economy.”
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The battered industry – recently showing a glimpse of a renewed life – is pleased with the prudence in front of the new version but eager to get back to normal.
“I think it’s not surprising that the United States is going this way because at the moment we don’t know enough about the variant,” said Chris Bloor, president and chief executive officer of the Association of Tourism Industry of Ontario.
“We clearly have a very frightening 21 months in the industry and are finally looking forward to a potential new year and a fresh start.”