Federal government to drop short-trip COVID-19 PCR test requirement: source

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WASHINGTON – Canada is expected to announce on Friday that it will no longer require Canadian travelers returning from short trips abroad to take expensive COVID-19 molecular tests, a government source said on Wednesday.

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The travel industry complains that the requirement to pass PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, the most reliable and commonly used method to detect COVID-19, is deterring tourism.

Canadians who make trips of 72 hours or less to the United States will no longer need a PCR test when they return home, said the source, who requested anonymity.

The news was first reported by the CBC.

This requirement has been decried as a major hurdle by businesses and travelers on both sides of the Canada-U.S. Border, as it deters short trips from cross-border day trippers, many of whom were looking for bargains.

US Congressman Brian Higgins, whose district includes Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York, near the border, said he met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington on Wednesday with a dozen other lawmakers.

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Higgins said he was told testing would be dropped for Americans in a second phase.

The delay in stopping testing for Americans “doesn’t make sense,” Higgins said in a statement. “The tests are not only unnecessary, they prohibit cross-border trade essential to foster economic recovery in both countries. “

Trudeau is in Washington for a meeting Thursday with US President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

According to Statistics Canada, three quarters of Canadian trips to the United States in 2019 were made by car. That year, Canadians made 21.5 million car trips across the border, requiring less than a day’s stay.

On November 8, the United States lifted a travel ban in early 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic that barred access to most non-U.S. Citizens from 33 countries and restricted entry by land from from Mexico and Canada.

Most travelers are required to show proof of vaccination in both directions, but Canada had also required a negative PCR test.

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