The end of 2020 witnessed an alarming spread of multiple COVID-19 variants, including strains that first emerged in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Record high COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were reported at similarly alarming rates, leading governments to take drastic action. In our December 22, 2020 blog, we reported on the travel restrictions imposed across multiple countries and regions across the globe, a trend that has continued at a rapid pace as governments fight to contain the spread of the virus. Some countries target travelers from the United Kingdom; others outright ban all foreigner visitors.

In North America, the United States and Canada have taken the additional step to now require negative COVID-19 tests. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control issued an Order, effective December 27 at 7:01 p.m. EST, requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test for all air passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to the United States. This Order applies to all air passengers traveling from the United Kingdom, including US citizens and legal permanent residents. Travel from the United Kingdom has already been curtailed by a Presidential Proclamation banning travel, by foreign nationals, from the United Kingdom to the United states, with very few exceptions.

Canada has now adopted this same requirement, with broader application. Effective Thursday, January 7, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EST, Canada will require all air passengers five years of age or older to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling from another country (not just the United Kingdom) to Canada. Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (or PCR) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveler’s scheduled departure to Canada.