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'Is this a joke?' Vancouverites react to new COVID-19 testing program at airports

"What if they don’t get tested?" asks one Vancouver man.
Travellers arriving at Canada's four biggest airports, including Vancouver's YVR, face random COVID-19 testing again as of July 19, 2022.

If you've experienced some sort of delay or difficulty travelling outside of Canada in the past couple of years, you are not alone. 

But recent issues have caused massive delays for air passengers at airports around the world. 

While it has been difficult to travel over the past two years, the industry has been overwhelmed with an influx of travellers eager to return to the skies as border measures are relaxed in Canada and around the world. Numerous travellers have shared horror stories about their travel experiences, including a Vancouver couple that was stranded in Montreal after their flights were rescheduled, delayed, and cancelled. 

Canada dropped its pre-arrival testing requirement in the spring but air travellers arriving at the country's four largest airports, including Vancouver International Airport (YVR), may be randomly selected for off-site COVID-19 testing. The renewed program went into effect July 19.

The federal government had paused its random testing requirement on June 11 to ease congestion at airports until it had set up its program at select test provider stores and pharmacies. 

Now, testing will be completed outside of airports either via an in-person appointment at select testing provider locations and pharmacies, or a virtual appointment for a self-swab test.

COVID-19 testing program moves from the Vancouver airport to local pharmacies 

Many Metro Vancouverties have taken to social media to express their frustration with the new coronavirus testing program, with many of them mentioning that it may cause further travel delays and complications.

One man said he'd rather have proof of a negative COVID-19 test to show than do the random tests. "At least you can plan your schedule around that. If you get pulled for 'random' testing that's [two] hours you and your fellow travellers have to add to your schedule."

Another local commented the new testing program probably won't cause significant delays at the airport. But they noted that they aren't "a huge fan of this and there are probably better ways to get this data."

One person tweeted that there are multiple issues with the program. "Lots of what ifs? What if people don’t have or check email? What if they don’t get tested? What if they go out? What is the science behind doing it this way? Another kick in the teeth for tourism."

While one local asks, "Why? And why random testing at airports but not at grocery stores, hotel lobbies, churches, Old Navy, Cactus Club?" another simply asks, "is this a joke?"

On the other hand, some Vancouverites feel like the random testing program will protect Canadians. 

Shannon Tezram commented that "this is a good thing. Sick of entitled toddlers with zero patience."

Canada uses the data from the testing program used to understand the "current level and trends of importation" of the virus into the country and the risk to Canadians.

The government says it also uses the data to inform decisions on the safe easing of border measures.

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