BELLINGHAM – Crossing the border with Canada will be easier from February 28.
Several Canadian media outlets, including CTV News, reported that the Canadian government is abandoning expensive molecular requirements before the arrival of PCR for vaccinated travelers later this month. Travelers will still need to take a pre-arrival test, but instead they can opt for a rapid antigen test approved by the country they come from to show that they do not have COVID-19.
Travelers to Canada can still be randomly selected for further testing, but will not need to be quarantined pending results.
According to the Health Agency of Canada, a rapid antigen test is not accepted when performed at home. This should be done by a healthcare facility or laboratory. This must also be done within 24 hours of arriving at the border. Travelers will also need to continue to provide information through the ArriveCAN app.
Thanks to faster and less expensive antigen tests, it will be easier for Americans to cross the border into Canada, and for Canadians to return home after visiting places like Watcom County.
Traffic volumes were sluggish during 2022 at the Linden, Sumas and two Blaine border crossings, according to data from the Cascadia Gateway Data website. At all four crossings, there are on average less than 5,000 passenger vehicles a day moving both north and south, which is about half as much as in December, when Canada first lifted insignificant travel restrictions.
Lori Troutman, director of the Border Policy Research Institute at the University of Western Washington, said the drop in traffic coincided with a resumption of PCR testing requirements as cases of the omicron variant increased on both sides of the border.
Since they haven’t stopped testing at all, Troutman said it’s a childish move, but she suspects it’s the first step toward abandoning testing for vaccinated travelers.
“I expect we will see relief with PCR removal, as it was in December, but the volume before the pandemic is still far away,” Troutman said in an email.
Another change that Trautman said is a big deal is the abolition of quarantine for unvaccinated children.