Mandatory random COVID-19 testing returning for Toronto Pearson airport travellers

Starting next week, fully-vaccinated travellers entering Canada through Toronto Pearson International Airport will once again be subjected to mandatory random COVID-19 testing.

The policy, which was temporary suspended last month amid long lines and delays at airports, will resume on July 18 for travellers arriving by air at Canada’s four major Canadian airports in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto.

The testing, however, will be conducted off-site as to not disrupt service at the airports. Individuals can get the tests either in-person at testing locations and pharmacies or use a self-swab test at home during a virtual appointment.

CTV News Toronto has contacted Toronto Pearson for more information on how this could affect delays for passengers.

“Moving testing outside of airports will support testing for travellers arriving by air while still being able to monitor and quickly respond to new variants of concern, or changes to the epidemiological situation,” officials said in a news release issued Thursday. “Mandatory random testing continues at land border points of entry, with no changes.”

Travellers who are picked for random testing at Toronto Pearson will receive an email notification within 15 minutes of completing their customs declaration. Information on how to arrange a test will be provided at that time.

Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals will continue to be required to get a test upon arrival into the country and on day eight of their mandatory 14-day quarantine. All travellers must provide their information on the ArriveCAN app or website 72 hours prior to their arrival in the country.

On Wednesday, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority said there operations are “getting better” after months of challenges, including cancelled flights, long lines and lost luggage.

“We’re seeing both labour being restored across the system at airlines and government agencies and we’re seeing processes improve,” President and CEO Deborah Flint said at the time.

Back in June, the GTAA applauded the federal government’s decision to pause on-site mandatory COVID-19 testing, as it expected an influx of travellers during the summer months. It warned that Canada could lose billions of dollars from tourism if the policy remained in place.

At the same time, public health officials maintain the importance of testing travellers to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We need to keep border testing measures in place because that is how we track importation of the COVID-19 virus, and of new variants of concern,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement. “We will keep adapting our border measures to balance the need to protect Canadians while supporting our economic recovery.

Ontario is currently in the seventh wave of the pandemic and expects to see a peak in infection within two weeks, according to the province’s chief medical officer of health.

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