OTTAWA - Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Canada's ban on flights from the United Kingdom will expire tonight at midnight.

Garneau says a new set of rules that require passengers returning from abroad to show proof of negative COVID-19 test results will prevent the spread of the virus across borders.

Canada halted most air travel from the U.K. on Dec. 20, where a mutated strain of COVID-19 had been discovered.

Garneau says passengers must take the PCR test - distinct from a rapid test - less than 72 hours before takeoff, or 96 hours in the cases of two dozen countries, mainly in the Caribbean.

Airlines say they were not consulted on the testing scheme, which they will be responsible for enforcing at check-in counters around the globe.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says Canadians have a moral obligation to avoid all non-essential travel, an appeal that comes after some federal and politicians take heat and lose jobs over holiday trips.