Since January 7, 2021, the Canadian authorities have obliged international travellers aged five or older to present a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to enter the country, VisaGuide.World reports.

According to a press release issued by the Canadian government, the test used must be a PCR test completed within 72 hours before departure to Canada, as other tests as antigen tests are not accepted.

Regarding the 72-hour requirement, the new rule includes some exceptions as for some particular countries the testing will be permitted within the 96-hour window of departure while some others are excluded due to lack of testing in those zones, the Transport Canada guidance explains.

Yet, even travellers who show negative PCR tests are still required to complete the 14 days of self-isolation, and the previous guidelines for students coming to Canada still remain the same and apply to everyone.

“Travellers to Canada must use the ArriveCAN App or website and provide accurate contact information and their mandatory 14-day quarantine plan on or before entry,” Transport Canada has advised.

Commenting on the new requirement, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, said that Canada continues to work with partners in order to prevent the further spread of the virus in all international ports of entry.

“The testing regime is not a replacement for the legal requirement to quarantine, which remains our strongest defence against the spread of the virus,” he said.

Following the new rule, Canada’s largest airlines have sought from the government to postpone the PCR testing requirement until January 18, 2021, arguing that the planned timeline is very tight.

“We have very serious concerns about the feasibility of successfully implementing such a significant measure in the extremely short time[frame] announced, without consultation or a coordinated plan,” reads a letter obtained by CBC News, which was delivered to the Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

The letter was written by CEOs of Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing as well as two important trade associations, the International Air Transport Association and National Airlines Council of Canada.

However, Minister Garneau said that the PCR test would be required anyway, as planned.

“We are reaching dangerous case numbers in areas across the country, and we cannot afford to stop the important work being done to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” Transport Canada spokesperson Allison St-Jean said, expressing optimism that the airlines will continue to play an important role as they did at the beginning of the pandemic.