The federal government is reintroducing the requirement for a pre-arrival negative PCR COVID-19 test for all travellers entering Canada regardless of how long trips are.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos made the announcement Friday as Canada continues to see a rise in Omicron COVID-19 infections.
Starting Dec. 21, all travellers entering Canada will need to show proof of a negative molecular test, like the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. This includes Canadians re-entering the country from trips abroad that were less than 72 hours, Duclos said.
Duclos said the pre-arrival test must be taken in a country other than Canada, and that officials are working with airport authorities, airlines and testing providers to increase testing capacity at airports for an efficient process.
In addition to the PCR reinstatement, Duclos announced Canada is dropping the travel bans imposed on 10 African nations, which were introduced last month to help limit the spread of the variant.
Starting Saturday at 11:59 p.m., the bans impacting travellers from Nigeria, Malawi, Egypt, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini will be lifted.
As Omicron spreads in Canada, officials have been introducing measures to slow transmission of the variant. The Public Health Agency of Canada projected if Omicron becomes the dominant strain of the virus in the country, cases will skyrocket by the new year.