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Canada reinstates mandatory random COVID-19 testing for airline travelers

Starting July 19, fully vaccinated travelers arriving at Canadian airports will again be subject to random COVID testing. All testing will be done off-site.

WASHINGTON — Canada's government is reinstating mandatory random COVID-19 testing for travelers arriving at its four airports. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada announced Thursday that testing will start on July 19 for fully vaccinated travelers. Last month, the agency had paused its randomized testing as part of a strategy to transition testing outside of airports.

If selected, fully vaccinated travelers arriving in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto will be required to take a COVID-19 test either at a pharmacy, select testing sites or in a self-swab test. 

Unvaccinated travelers will still have to continue routine testing on the first and eighth day of their 14-day quarantine, according to the release. For its land borders, the agency said it will continue to have mandatory random testing.

"As we have said all along, Canada's border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence," said the Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos. "We need to keep border testing measures in place because that is how we track importation of the COVID-19 virus, and of new variants of concern."

Selected travelers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, will receive email notifications within 15 minutes of clearing customs. According to the agency, the emails will provide help with arranging in-person or virtual appointments to get swabbed.

In the case of a positive COVID-19 test, the agency requires a 10-day isolation period from the date of the test result. 

All travelers entering Canada must continue using ArriveCAN, a website and mobile app designed to provide travel information when traveling to Canada. ArriveCAN requires travel information within 72 hours before arriving in Canada. 

In addition to providing information, travelers entering Toronto Pearson International Airport or Vancouver International Airport can use the app to submit their customs declaration in advance, easing the lines at airports.

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