Canada is lifting the ban on international travel from the 10 countries in Africa starting December 18 at 11:59 p.m.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced on December 17.
Canada first implemented the ban on November 26 to seven African countries, but within days expanded to 10: South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Nigeria, Malawi, and Egypt. The ban was originally set to expire on January 31.
Canada will also re-introduce pre-arrival tests for all new incoming travelers. Currently, Canadian residents can leave and come back within 72 hours without needing a pre-arrival COVID-19 test. However, a negative pre-arrival test will be required for all new arrivals to Canada starting December 21.
The government said the bans were originally put in place due to a high rate of travelers testing positive for coronavirus from those countries. However, African political leaders and scientists criticized Canada for only including African countries in its ban, even though the Omicron variant had been detected in 44 countries at the time.
Canada was also the only country among the Group of Seven nations to require its citizens to return with a COVID-19 test from a third country. However, this requirement was temporarily suspended for South Africa.
The federal government also requires travelers who are allowed to enter Canada from those countries still to get a negative COVID-19 test in a third country before boarding – which travelers say has made getting to Canada next to impossible. Over the weekend, the government suspended that requirement for South Africa.