Steps being taken to preserve capacity with the provincially funded COVID-19 testing network
December 14, 2020 Health
TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is updating the province's testing guidelines for outbound international travellers. Effective December 11, 2020, individuals requesting a COVID-19 test for international travel clearance are no longer eligible for a publicly funded COVID-19 test in Ontario.
This step is being taken to ensure taxpayer dollars are appropriately allocated to key priorities and to preserve capacity within the provincially funded COVID-19 testing network. The province continues to provide testing to anyone who needs a test per provincial testing guidelines at no cost. This includes people who are symptomatic, or people who have been in contact with someone who has symptoms.
"As the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed, we have continued to adapt our approach to testing and the services we have made available," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "While international travellers are no longer eligible to receive a publicly funded COVID-19 test, we remain committed to ensuring that anyone who needs a test can get one quickly, at no cost."
This fall, the province updated Ontario's testing guidelines to prioritize those who are at greatest risk of getting the virus. Anyone who falls within the current Provincial Testing Guidance should continue to seek publicly funded testing, available at participating pharmacies and assessment centres.
International travellers are recommended to consult their travel carrier's guidelines to ensure they have the most up-to-date information. They should also refer to the federal government's travel website for up-to-date expectations and requirements related to their destination. If a COVID-19 test is required, it is important to leave ample time for testing and to receive results. COVID-19 testing services are readily available and travellers in need of a test can now find convenient local options, including private testing facilities such as a travel clinic.
The best way to stop COVID-19 is to limit close contacts to the people you live with. As such, travel is not recommended, and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you are considering travel and/or overnight stays, consider whether you, someone you live with, or anyone you plan to visit with is at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
As the province prepares to roll out its phased vaccination program and heads into the holiday season, the government is urging all Ontarians to continue to follow all required public health measures and public health advice.
- Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert app. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.
- To stay safe, you can download the COVID Alert App free from the Apple and Google Play app stores.