Nova Scotia Journal

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Travel agencies in Calgary are trying to adjust changing COVID test rules

Travel agencies in Calgary

Key Takeaways:

  • Travel agencies said that Calgarians booked vacation packages or flights earlier this year.
  • Now navigating a series of fast changes intended at halting the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron type.

By next week, Canadians and all other foreign tourists flying to the United States will be required to receive a COVID-19 test at least 24 hours before their flight, a reduction from the previous 72-hour window.

Meanwhile, Canada has temporarily excused U.S. tourists from its strict new guidelines, forcing all international air travelers to be tested upon arrival and self-isolate while waiting for the findings.

This comes on top of a Canadian travel ban that prohibits foreign visitors from visiting any of the ten nations named, with Nigeria, Malawi, and Egypt being added to the list. A White House background memo outlining the new rules for those flying to the United States makes no mention of land borders or whether fully vaccinated Canadians driving south would be required to show a test result. Currently, no such test is necessary to enter the United States by land.

Before the Omicron variant, demand for vacation bookings was “skyrocketing,” according to Katie Kewley, a travel adviser with Vision Travel in Calgary. Still, travel requests have declined in the last week.

Agents are still trying to understand the new 24-hour negative test requirement for Canadians traveling to the United States. She knows from experience that rules can change by the hour.

“We tell our clients to take it day by day because it’s very volatile,” she said. “If anything, it strengthens the case for why people need travel agents.”

The new U.S. testing requirement has caused some concern among people who are used to taking PCR tests with results that take longer than the 24-hour window, she said. Rapid antigen tests purchased at Costco or Shoppers Drug Mart can provide results in as little as a day, but demand is high right now, she said.

Airlines are offering at-home testing kits as well. For example, air Canada has partnered with Switch Health to sell at-home rapid antigen tests for $40 each, and WestJet Group announced last week an expansion of their program with AZOVA to offer at-home test kits with results in 11 to 30 minutes.

Source: Calgaryherald News

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