New COVID test requirements for travellers 'step in the right direction': Regina Airport CEO

·2 min read

Anyone hoping to travel to Canada will soon require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they can enter the country, but the new requirements won't have much effect on Saskatchewan airports.

The change was announced on Wednesday, with Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc saying the new measures will be put in place "quickly" without providing a specific date.

Under the new requirements, travellers will be required to receive a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no longer than 72 hours before boarding a plane to Canada.

However, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the new measures are "not an alternative to quarantine," but an additional layer of protection.

Regina Airport Authority president and CEO James Bogusz said that since all of the airport's flights are currently coming from other Canadian hubs, like Calgary and Toronto, the change won't have an immediate effect at YQR.

He said that while the new requirements are a "step in the right direction," he doesn't see the change resulting in a big boost in traffic for the airport, as people still have to isolate for 14 days if they travel internationally, even with a negative test.

He hopes that once the measures are fully in place, the federal government will start moving toward shortening isolation periods for those who test negative.

Bogusz pointed to a pilot program underway at the Calgary International Airport where those who are tested and come back negative upon returning to Canada may not have to isolate for as long, on the condition they follow public-health guidelines.

He said that if the new requirement leads to a more widespread application of that program, it may help increase travel demand.

Officials with Skyxe Saskatoon Airport said in a statement that any conversations or dialogue around on-site testing in Saskatoon are in the very preliminary stages.

"Most Canadian airports, including Skyxe Saskatoon Airport, are assessing with various stakeholders the potential effectiveness of on-site COVID testing with respect to quarantine periods and implications for airport processing as we maintain our paramount overall objective of safe air travel," indicated the statement.

"While the air travel benefit appears clear, stakeholder discussions regarding our options will continue as we assess alignment with Public Health guidance."