Federal Government Lists COVID-19 Testing Services Abroad After New Rule Strands Many Travellers

Transport Canada will provide more details this week on where travellers can get COVID-19 tests abroad – and what if they are caught using the paper fake – after a new testing rule for passengers flying to Canada caused widespread confusion and anxiety.

The new government policy, which went into effect on January 7, requires all passengers travelling five years and older to provide documentation of a negative laboratory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test for three days before flying to Canada. The government offered an exemption of 96 hours, or four days, to travellers from certain countries, but that additional 24-hour window is set to expire on January 14.

Some travellers have struggled to find legitimate laboratory tests as the government did not initially provide a list of locations where tests could be obtained.

Five days after implementing the new regulation, the federal government launched a website for passengers travelling to Canada, listing recognized test locations in several countries.

WestJet reports that, in the first four days after the federal government announced the new testing rule, it refused to board 363 travellers because some had paid for illegitimate tests, some hadn’t obtained tests at all and some had failed to get their testing done within the required three-day window.

Air Transat said it refused to board 148 passengers over those four days due to problems with testing, while another 300 people simply failed to check-in for their flights.

Transport Canada has also issued warnings to travellers who use the fake test and that airlines know and still accept the results.

“If an airline suspects that a passenger has provided false or misleading information, they must notify the department,” a ministry spokesman said.

“Airlines that fail to comply with Transportation Canada’s Interim Order or other regulatory requirements under the Aviation Act can be fined up to $ 5,000.”

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