Changing COVID-19 test requirement at the border sparks reaction in Windsor

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Maya Calongcagong and Mohammed Ali were returning to Canada from Michigan. (Jason Viau/CBC - image credit)
Maya Calongcagong and Mohammed Ali were returning to Canada from Michigan. (Jason Viau/CBC - image credit)

Maya Calongcagong returned to Canada on Friday after visiting her boyfriend in Michigan. She said she likes to go once or twice a week.

"Right now there's no testing, so it's nice," she said, referring to the rule for short cross-border trips. "But for him to come over he has to get tested."

That will change as of Dec. 21, when all travellers will once again need to get a COVID-19 test before returning to Canada.

The announcement from Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos rolls back an exemption announced last month that fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents taking short trips the U.S. — under 72 hours — wouldn't need proof of a negative test before returning home. The test must be taken outside of Canada.

The reintroduction of the testing rule wasn't the news Calongcagong was hoping for, but she said she understands. But this will likely impact how often she sees her boyfriend.

"I have to get tested there, and I find that the results take a little bit longer. So in order for me to go, I'd have to go for a few more days and with work and school and stuff, it would be hard to find time in my schedule, which kind of sucks," she said.

As Mohammed Ali entered Canada on Friday, he said the Canada Border Services Agency officer let him know about the change. He's a Wayne State College student who was returning home for the holidays.

"I was surprised," he said. "It seems like a lot of hassle, but I guess I guess it's necessary."

Ali said he gets free PCR testing from his school and he doesn't cross over to see family much.

"I live in the dorms, so I don't really have many reasons to cross. So I think this semester I crossed twice, once during Thanksgiving and now, but not that often, like once, every few months," he said.

The school is doing all they can to prevent spread, Ali said, but outside of the school the doesn't seem to be much in the way of prevention.

"The first thing I noticed, you can go into any store. You don't have to have a mask on at all," he said. "This makes me worried about touching, like, literally anything."

Canada is also increasing testing requirements for international travellers and dropping its travel ban on flights from 10 African countries as the government tries to quash the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

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