The federal government announced Wednesday that fully vaccinated Canadian travellers will no longer need to spend 14 days in quarantine upon arriving home.
It will apply to Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have had a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu made the announcement during a news conference this afternoon, saying affected travellers will still have to take a COVID-19 test on arrival — and stay in isolation until the test comes back negative.
“I will be watching carefully here in Canada and around the world as cases change and as vaccination rates rise,” said Hajdu.
“These metrics are very important factors as we move towards implementing the changes on the border that we hope to have in place in early July.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not say, when asked in the House of Commons, when the change will be made.
“We will be making announcements around that in the coming weeks,” he said. “The reality is… every step of the way, our top priority must be the safety and security of Canadians during, what is hopefully, the final few months of this pandemic in Canada.”
The government will also eliminate the need for fully vaccinated Canadian air travellers to spend three days quarantining in an authorized hotel upon arriving in the country.
“Fully vaccinated travellers with a right of entry to Canada will be able to forego staying in a government-approved and authorized hotel until such time that they’ve received their negative, day one test,” said Hajdu.
“That’s the big change.”
The developments come as overall new cases of COVID-19 continue to fall, although death counts and those needing life-saving mechanical help remain stubbornly high in some cases.
Easier travel could also be resuming between Canada and the United States for fully vaccinated people.
After the federal government said they were taking step towards easing restrictions earlier this week, reports surfaced that an announcement could be made as soon as Friday.
It is expected to be a long, gradual process and the first steps would likely allow for smoother cross-border travel for people who are fully immunized.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been coy about when the country can expect to see border restrictions eased, only saying that it will happen sometime soon.
With Canada-U.S. travel restrictions set to expire in just two weeks and pressure mounting on the federal government to avoid yet another 30-day renewal, the Prime Minister offered only the barest hint of hope that things could change by June 21.
“We are looking at how we can ease the rules, based on science, for would-be travellers who have had a complete course of a COVID-19 vaccine,” Trudeau said Tuesday.
Trudeau adds that when borders do start to reopen, Canada will likely be an attractive destination for tourists given our high vaccination rate.
The Prime Minister has been in talks with allies about the creation of an International vaccine passport, a topic that could be raised during the G7 meeting happening later this week.
Director of the University of Toronto’s G-7 Research Group John Kirton says Trudeau will have to decide whether Canada “wants to be on the right side or stay on the wrong side of COVID” when it comes to sharing vaccines.
Canada has yet to announce it’s donating to low-income countries any of the 122 million doses it has in guaranteed deliveries.