Travellers in Ontario scramble as U.S. implements new testing requirement
TORONTO -- Passengers in Ontario flying into the United States scrambled to get a COVID-19 test completed one day prior to taking off as new rules took affect at midnight.
The new rule forces Canadians and all other foreign visitors who travel to the U.S. by air to get a COVID-19 test no later than one day before their departure in light of the new the Omicron variant.
American Steve Rasic, who was visiting family in Toronto and flying back home to Chicago on Monday, told CTV News Toronto that he was not impressed with his own government’s new testing rules.
“Definitely not a fan to be honest with you. I had do to so much to get here, I mean it is what it is at this point," he said.
Leigh Gowland of Toronto was flying to Florida on Monday and said she and her partner paid $40 at a local drug store and got the necessary test and result.
“We had enough time, we had go out yesterday at 12 p.m. We are flying today at 12,” Gowland said.
Her wife Cathy Gowland worries about seniors having to navigate their way though all the demands.
"It was a little bit onerous yesterday as far as uploading documents and making sure they were verified at their end. It took us a little while. It was okay for us, but if you were a little bit old it might have been more difficult," she said.
She said people have to take these changes one step at a time and be prepared for more changes at any time.
“You have to be flexible and you have to have patience for sure," she said.
Peter, who did not want his last name public, says his family had to scramble to get tested yesterday.
“That was a little bit of a problem… it was a bit challenge to get it in time yesterday before we fly today. Other than that it was fine," he said.
On his way to Tampa, Florida, he told CTV News Toronto that no one bothered to ask for the COVID test results at check-in.
“They didn’t ask for it here which was surprising, but I’m pretty confident the U.S. customs guy will ask for it … or else its a waste of $40,” he said.
There are also changes in effect for international passengers flying into Canada.
“All air travellers entering Canada from any country other than the U.S. must take a COVID-19 test at the airport they land in, regardless of their vaccination status," a Canadian government website states.
Martin Firestone of Travel Secure Inc. says this is a recipe for confusion.
“This is going to get really really chaotic as we get closer to the holiday season," he said. "I can’t even imagine how long people could be waiting on planes, could be waiting in assembly halls in airports before they are able to get out.”
For now, they are only doing random testing at Toronto Pearson Airport.
"Not all passengers are being tested yet because the Government needs more time to put the infrastructure in place," the GTAA saying in a statement to CTV News Toronto.
Robert Gooch of The Canadian Airports Council doesn’t see how each and every passenger landing in Toronto can be tested on site.
“We have indicted 100 per cent of testing cannot be done at the airport, it is not feasible. Take home tests will need to be part of the mix.”