Canada will not extend ban on flights from Britain when it expires Wednesday

·1-min read
An empty terminal 3, amid a spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, at Pearson airport

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will not extend a ban on flights from Britain when it expires later on Wednesday because new measures to fight the coronavirus have made it unnecessary, Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters.

The initial 72-hour Canadian ban - first imposed late last month after a new variant of the virus emerged in Britain - was later extended to Jan. 6.

Starting on Thursday, people who want to fly to Canada have to prove they have tested negative for COVID-19 in the previous 72 hours.

"The ban on UK flights, which goes until midnight tonight, will lapse," said Garneau. "(The) pre-departure testing protocol ... will replace the ban."

Everyone arriving in Canada from abroad must still quarantine for 14 days.

The requirement to test negative for COVID-19 applies to passengers aged five and over.

People in parts of the world with limited testing capacity - including some South American and Caribbean nations - can show they tested negative within the previous 96 hours.

Separately, Ontario, Canada's most populous province, said it was launching a pilot program to test incoming passengers at Toronto's Pearson Airport, the largest in Canada.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in ottawa and Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool)