COVID-19 testing requirement quietly amended for international travellers

We previously reported that virtually all international passengers flying to Canada from another country would be required to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding (the Testing Requirement). 

The two orders implementing the Testing Requirement have been quietly amended, with no advance announcement. Current details regarding the Testing Requirement now appear in the following orders (collectively, the Orders):

  1. The Interim Order Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID-19, No. 20(Interim Order No. 20).
  2. The Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations) (Minimizing Risk Order).

Qualifying COVID-19 test result

The prior versions of the Orders required every person boarding a flight to Canada to provide (to the private operator or air carrier operating the flight) evidence that they have received a negative test result for a COVID-19 molecular test that was performed on a specimen collected no more than 72 hours before the aircraft’s initial scheduled departure time.  

The Orders now require every person (unless exempted), before boarding an aircraft for a flight to Canada, to provide (to the private operator or air carrier operating the flight) evidence that they have received either:

  1. A negative result for a COVID-19 molecular test that was performed on a specimen that was collected no more than 72 hours before the aircraft’s initial scheduled departure time; or
  2. A positive result for such a test that was performed on a specimen that was collected at least 14 days and no more than 90 days before the aircraft’s initial scheduled departure time.

The revised Testing Requirement would seem to imply reliance on research that has found that COVID-19 is not easily transmitted by those who have received a positive result in the past 14 to 90 days.

Exemptions – Interim Order No. 20

The prior version of Interim Order No. 20 exempted the following persons from the Testing Requirement:

  1. Persons who are exempted under an order made under Section 58 of the Quarantine Act from providing evidence that they received a negative result for a COVID-19 molecular test; and
  2. Persons who board an aircraft for a flight departing from Haiti, as it does not yet have molecular testing for COVID-19 generally available.

The first exemption simply confirms that a person who is exempt from the Testing Requirement under the Minimizing Risk Order is also exempt under Interim Order No. 20. The exemption for those boarding an aircraft for a flight departing from Haiti has been removed from Interim Order No. 20.

Exemptions – Minimizing Risk Order

The majority of the exemptions from the Testing Requirement appear in the Minimizing Risk Order. The Minimizing Risk Order now contains an additional exemption for a person who enters Canada by aircraft and who is not required under the Aeronautics Act to provide evidence of a qualifying COVID-19 Molecular Test. This addition simply confirms that a person who is exempt from the Testing Requirement under Interim Order No. 20 is also exempt under the Minimizing Risk Order. 

As noted above, the only exemption that currently appears in Interim Order No. 20 applies to those who qualify for an exemption under the Minimizing Risk Order. However, additional exemptions may be added to Interim Order No. 20 in the future, which will not also appear in the Minimizing Risk Order. 

Subscribe and stay updated
Receive our latest blog posts by email.
Jonathan Mor

About Jonathan Mor

Jonathan Mor is an immigration associate in our Employment and Labour group. Jonathan has extensive experience practicing in both Canada and the US. Jonathan has handled complex immigration matters for corporate clients of every size, from multinational companies with well-established affiliates all over the world, to partnerships, sole proprietors and individual professionals.

Full bio