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Saturday,  May 18, 2024 7:38 PM 

ACTA clarifies “within 24 hours” wording for pre-arrival antigen tests

ACTA clarifies “within 24 hours” wording for pre-arrival antigen tests
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Ottawa’s announcement that fully vaccinated Canadians travelling abroad can, starting at the end of the month, opt for an antigen test (instead of PCR) to meet pre-arrival requirements for entry into Canada is a welcome change.

But like with all government announcements, there’s sometimes an ounce of ambiguity in the way details are worded.

Unrolling a suite of new border rules at a press conference earlier this week, federal officials said that fully-vaxxed travellers entering Canada will have the option of using a COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken “within 24 hours” to meet pre-entry requirements.

READ MORE: “A great first step,” but testing still deters travel: Mixed industry reactions to border update

Posting an update to its Twitter account on Friday (Feb. 18), the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) said it has received clarification from the Canadian government that travellers can take an antigen test conducted “anytime on the day of or before travel,” which is similar to how the United States operates.

“This corrects the previous announcement of ‘within 24 hours,’” ACTA wrote.

Taking a rapid antigen test at home is "not sufficient" to meet the pre-entry requirement, the government also notes on its website

"It must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service."

Travellers can also still opt for a molecular test result taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at a land border.

READ MORE: “More needs to be done”: What Canada's airlines are saying about Ottawa's eased travel rules

In addition to giving travellers the option to undergo a pre-arrival antigen test, Ottawa’s updated measures, which kick in Feb. 28, also include:

  • A return to randomized on-arrival testing at airports and travellers, if selected for testing, will not be required to self-isolate while awaiting results.
  • Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 travelling with fully vaccinated adults will no longer be required to self-isolate or avoid school, camp, daycare of other public spaces upon entry to Canada nor will they be subjected to testing.
  • Downgrading the travel advisory on non-essential travel from level three to level two.

Travellers may still use a molecular test within 72 hours of travel, if they like, or furnish proof of a positive molecular test taken at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada.

The international flight ban will be lifted at all Canadian airports. There is no change or easing of rules for unvaccinated travellers. 

Click here for an official overview of the Government of Canada's new border measures. 

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