PCR test result not required for return from short trips to US

Beginning tomorrow, November 30, 2021, Canadian travellers who spend less than 72 hours in the United States do not need to show a negative PCR test result upon re-entry to Canada.

The change, announced November 19 and which comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning, removed the requirement to provide a pre-entry COVID-19 molecular test result to re-enter the country within 72 hours of crossing the border into the United States. Previously the test was a requirement for anyone coming back into Canada, regardless of the duration of their trip. The change applies to fully vaccinated Canadian citizens, permanent residents or individuals registered under the Indian Act who depart and re-enter by land or by air.

The new exemption also applied to those with medical contraindications as defined in the Orders in Council (OIC) and unvaccinated children under 12 who are accompanying their parent, step-parent, guardian or tutor who is fully vaccinated and has the right of entry into Canada.

The PCR test result requirement was a point of contention among border towns, who argued that those living close to the border made trips across in a different manner to other tourists. There was also concern that the test requirement would turn off travellers who would otherwise make short trips into the United States from Canada to shop for things like gas and groceries.

International Falls mayor Harley Droba had previously discussed his concerns with the PCR test requirement for Canadians, noting he was worried it would keep away those Canadians who would qualify, but don’t want to pay for a test to enter and return from the U.S.

“I think you’ll have some families come over because it’s been so long since they’ve been able to see each other,” Droba said when the announcement was made that Canadians would be allowed to return to the United States.

Even as the PCR test result requirement is removed for short-duration trips across, those coming back into Canada will still be required to have a number of documents ready for Canadian Border Agents, including an ArriveCAN receipt with a letter I or V beside the vaccinated traveller’s name, along with a proof of vaccination, including paper copies. Fully vaccinated travellers returning to Canada may also be subject to a mandatory randomized arrival test.

COVID numbers across Minnesota and Ontario are continuing to rise, with the state announcing 4,511 new cases as of Monday, November 29, 2021 and Ontario revealing 788 new cases the same day.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization warned Friday of the newest variant of concern, the omicron variant (previously known as B.1.1.529), which has mainly been found in South Africa but is also appearing in other countries around the world. The U.S. has since announced it was implementing travel restrictions from several African countries in response to the new variant.