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Travelers’ confusion reigns amid changing tips and variations – Lake Country Calendar

Confusion is now the defining state for many Canadians who plan to travel this month amid shifting advice, COVID-19 variants and layers of quarantine testing and rules.

The prospect of flying overseas is “incredibly confusing”, as passengers are still unsure whether they will be tested at airports on their return or forced into quarantine – in addition to the range of measures in there. other countries – said Marty Firestone, president of the Toronto-based insurer. Travel in complete safety.

“What do I need to enter this country? What do I need to enter this country? What do I need to return to my own country? he asked, paraphrasing the customers’ questions.

Many are now redirecting trips or canceling trips altogether in exasperation, Firestone said.

“We’re just in disarray, there’s no other easy way to tell.”

One area where uncertainty abounds is COVID-19 testing.

The federal government has said all passengers entering Canada, except those arriving from the United States, must be tested on arrival and isolated until they get their results. (Those from 10 African countries face additional restrictions after the initial detection of the Omicron variant in South Africa, despite its prevalence in over 50 countries.)

But Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos acknowledged on Friday that Canadian airports did not yet have the capacity to fully test all non-American international arrivals. He did not say when it could realistically start, although random testing for returning overseas passengers is currently underway.

“It will be chaos and utter chaos at airports once people return to Canada,” Firestone predicted.

“Are they going to be parked in a meeting room with 1,000 other people?” Stay on the plane until the terminal is empty enough to carry the next 1,000 people? Or will they be given a take-out test? ” He asked.

Travelers should also determine testing requirements in other countries. A negative result of a rapid antigen or PCR test performed on the day or the day before departure is required to enter the United States

But only the more expensive PCR test – the price can reach $ 300 – is acceptable for return to Canada if residents want to avoid quarantine. Travelers have up to 72 hours before take-off or crossing the border to get a nasal swab, although many pharmacies do not offer a time guarantee.

Then again, if the trip is less than 72 hours, fully vaccinated travelers and road travelers do not need to be tested after all.

“Total confusion,” said John McKenna, CEO of the Air Transport Association of Canada. “Even we have calls with the Department of Transportation, and they don’t have the answers.”

He said the federal government needs to communicate its direction more clearly as thousands of Canadians begin to cancel vacation trips.

For example, the federal government’s travel advice website does not rank countries based on their COVID-19 risk, unlike the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Duclos said on Friday that those planning to travel in the next few weeks should expect delays and hassle at the airport, and be aware that the situation could suddenly get worse.

“If they are planning to travel, (Omicron) should be a serious wake-up call, a serious concern for them,” he told reporters. “It’s going to be uncertain and risky.”

Ottawa has not reimposed an advisory against all non-essential overseas travel it quietly lifted on Oct. 21, but it is warning Canadians to “be extra careful” as the Omicron variant spreads.

“Everyone is very upset,” McKenna said, citing a lack of meaningful consultation with the industry.

“We are not saying that the government does not take this seriously,” he added. “We say the government needs to be better organized and better communicate.

Regarding airport screening, Duclos said that as of November 30, airports can administer 11,000 tests per day and that number has increased to 17,000 per day.

Full capacity would be 23,000 tests daily, and Duclos did not specify when that would occur.

He also announced that 35 million rapid tests will be delivered to provinces and territories this month, although questions remain about the extent of their deployment.

The requests follow a report by the Auditor General on Thursday which found that Canada had failed to adequately enforce border measures designed to prevent international travelers from importing cases of COVID-19 into the country.

The World Health Organization said on Thursday it was too early to say whether Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta variant, although preliminary data suggests the strain may not be as severe as initially feared.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 11, 2021.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press