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Canada announces further easing of border restrictions for vaccinated travellers

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • Fully vaccinated Americans will be able to enter Canada for non-essential reasons beginning 9 August and if they meet certain conditions, they will not have to quarantine
  • On 7 September, all travellers who are fully vaccinated will be able to enter Canada for non-essential reasons without needing to quarantine (again if they meet certain conditions)
  • Fully vaccinated travellers will still need to do a pre-arrival COVID test before travelling to Canada but unless they are randomly selected, they will not have to do a post-arrival test
  • On 9 August, all travellers – regardless of vaccination status – will be exempt from the previously mandated three-night government authorised hotel stay requirement
  • Also on 9 August, five additional Canadian airports will open to international arrivals

Earlier this month, the Canadian government began allowing fully vaccinated international students into Canada without requiring them to complete a 14-day quarantine. Now – in a move that will be more than welcome among those in Canada’s travel and tourism industries – the Canadian government is preparing to extend the easing of travel rules further to all fully vaccinated travellers entering the country for non-essential reasons. It will also, next month, open up more airports to international arrivals.

The less restrictive protocols – including dropping the requirement for quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers meeting specific requirements – will go into effect in the weeks ahead provided that Canada’s COVID situation remains favourable.

For fully vaccinated travellers from countries other than the US, eased restrictions go into effect 7 September 2021. The relaxing of restrictions for fully vaccinated Americans begins 9 August.

The government’s announcement comes as a result of impressive progress in Canada in battling the pandemic (all as of 27 July):

  • 75% of the eligible Canadian population have had one dose of an approved COVID vaccine;
  • 50% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated;
  • COVID infections and hospitalisations are low.

Announcing the new measures, Canada’s Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said,

“Canadians’ safety and security always come first. With rising vaccination rates and fewer cases in Canada, we can begin to safely ease border measures. A gradual approach to reopening will allow our health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 situation here and abroad. Canadians have worked hard and sacrificed for each other, and because of that work, we can take these next steps safely.”

The details

Here are the highlights of Canada’s upcoming border protocols:

  • On 9 August, Americans who have fully vaccinated – with a Government of Canada-approved vaccine – for at least two weeks will be permitted to enter Canada for non-essential reasons provided they meet specific entry requirements.
  • On 7 September, borders will open to all travellers who are fully vaccinated (again, two weeks prior to arrival and provided they meet entry requirements).
  • All incoming travellers coming into the country on the basis of vaccination status must use the ArriveCAN app or web portal to submit their travel information. They must be asymptomatic and be ready present a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation in English or French (or certified translation) to officials on arrival.
  • Fully vaccinated travellers will still require a pre-entry COVID-19 test result to enter Canada but will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected for additional testing.
  • If they meet entry requirements, fully vaccinated travellers will not have to quarantine upon arrival. But they must have a quarantine plan to present to officials in case they do not meet entry requirements and then be prepared to quarantine.
  • Travellers who are not fully vaccinated will still be subject to all mandatory pre- and post-arrival testing currently in place.
  • Effective 9 August, the previously mandated three-night government authorised hotel stay requirement for incoming travellers will end – both for the fully vaccinated and for travellers who have not been fully vaccinated.

Otherwise, there are important conditions to note. The government advises:

  • “Some provinces and territories may have their own entry restrictions in place. Check and follow both the federal and any provincial or territorial restrictions and requirements before travelling.”
  • Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age and dependents of fully vaccinated travellers eligible for entry to Canada will be exempted from quarantine with enhanced public health measures, meaning they can move around with their parents, but must avoid group settings, such as camps or daycares.”

In a related development, direct flights from India to Canada from India remain banned until at least 21 August 2021, as a result of India’s still grave epidemiological situation.

The Canadian government summarises the new border rules in the following table:

Source: Government of Canada

The government also has a dedicated informational webpage for international students coming into Canada, and an “Entering Canada requirements checklist” can be found here.

Five more airports

In addition to the current Canadian airports accepting international travellers – Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport – the following airports will open to international arrivals on 9 August:

  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport
  • Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport
  • Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport
  • Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport
  • Edmonton International Airport

A boost for tourism

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, noted the beneficial effects the reduced travel restrictions will have on Canada’s travel and tourism sector:

“Thanks to the incredible progress that Canadians have made in our fight against the pandemic, we are now able to take the next step in Canada’s gradual reopening of the border. We look forward to welcoming fully vaccinated Americans shortly, followed by travellers from the rest of the world in early September. Not only will this make a big difference for Canada’s travel and tourism industry and all those whose jobs depend on it, it will also make it easier for those with a Confirmation of Permanent Residence letter to come to Canada and play a role in our recovery from the pandemic.”

Beth Potter, President & CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), welcomed the news:

“TIAC has been tirelessly advocating for a science-based plan for reopening our borders and restarting our visitor economy….We are pleased that the federal government has communicated an evidence-based plan to reopen the borders and restart travel. We are delighted to hear the start of this phased approach today.”

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