March Break travel: Toronto airport expecting busiest travel day since start of pandemic Friday


Airport officials in Toronto say they are expecting Friday to be the busiest travel day since the start of the pandemic as throngs of COVID-19-weary Canadians get out of town for March Break.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority said this week that they are expecting some 85,000 passengers to pass through Pearson on Friday.

The expected exodus comes on the heels of a challenging winter and as COVID-19 health measures continue to loosen with improving health indicators.

Officials at Pearson warned that those who have not travelled for some time should expect a different experience at the airport and should leave themselves lots of time.

“In addition to process changes, passengers may experience longer wait times during check-in, security and boarding their aircraft as there are still additional screening questions and health checks in place at Canada’s airports,” the GTAA said.

The group advised travellers to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before a domestic flight and at least three hours before an international flight.

The federal government recently dropped a requirement for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada to have a PCR test before arrival, although those entering the country must still show proof of a negative rapid antigen test administered by a health worker up to 24 hours before their flight.

While travellers might be randomly selected to take a COVID test upon returning, they will not have to isolate while they wait for the results.  Unvaccinated kids under 12 travelling with vaccinated adults are also now exempt from isolation after returning to the country.

Ontario recently announced plans to lift masking requirements in most settings on March 21, but masks are still required for most travellers in airports and on airplanes, which are federally regulated.

Returning travellers can save some time by a using the ArriveCan app or the online version to fill out their CBSA Declaration and input their proof-of-vaccination documents.

Pearson is advising travellers to check its travel hub for a full list of current travel requirements.



The busy March Break travel period comes as representatives from the travel industry call for an end to all restrictions around travel by April 1.

A number of business groups held a joint news conference in downtown Toronto Thursday, saying that Canada’s rules are “decimating” the travel indsutry.

Nancy Tudorache, regional vice-president of the Global Business Travel Association, said the move away from PCR tests is helpful, but doesn’t go far enough.

“While we certainly appreciate the move from the PCR to the rapid antigen test – which is a little bit easier to get, a little less expensive – at the same time, it is another burden to business travel,” Tudorache said. “It’s another layer that makes it very difficult for individual business travellers to ensure that they’re focusing on their business.”

In the meantime, the Ontario government is offering a staycation tax credit of 20 per cent for Ontario residents who book a stay within the province in order to try and stimulate the local tourism industry.

“So until we can get that international business and leisure traveller back, we’re really going to rely on Ontarians to bring back that pride of people, pride of place, and of course that pride of product that we have here in the province of Ontario,” Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Lisa MacLeod told CP24 Thursday.

MacLeod said she has been working with her federal and provincial counterparts and would like to see them further lift restrictions.

“I think today we’re really signaling in Ontario that as we start to really ease restrictions and to follow the advice of our public health officials like Dr. Kieran Moore, that perhaps the federal government should follow suit,” she said.

– With files from The Canadian Press

Pearson travel

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