Canada’s federal government updated its border measures on Monday announcing that fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents from the U.S. will be allowed to enter the country as of August 9.
All other fully vaccinated international travellers will be allowed to enter Canada starting September 7, on the condition the country’s COVID-19 case counts remain low and vaccination rates keep trending in a positive direction.
BREAKING: On August 9th Canada will reopen our border with the US to fully vaccinated American travellers.
Fully vaxxed travellers from all other countries will be allowed to enter for non-essential travel beginning September 7th as long as COVID situation looks good. #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) July 19, 2021
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who said he spoke with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday, said the U.S. has not yet indicated any plan to change current restrictions at the land border. Canadians are able to fly into the U.S. with a negative COVID-19 test.
“The Government of Canada is prioritizing the health and safety of everyone in Canada by taking a risk-based and measured approach to re-opening our borders,” the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said.
“Thanks to the hard work of Canadians, rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 cases, the Government of Canada is able to move forward with adjusted border measures.”
The feds say to be fully vaccinated, incoming travellers must be immunized with a Health Canada-approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to arriving in the country. Proof of vaccination has to be uploaded to the “ArriveCAN” app and all travellers still have to provide a quarantine plan just in case.
Unvaccinated individuals will not be allowed to enter Canada through non-essential trips. If someone or a group is considered essential, they must quarantine for 14 days (two weeks).
Starting August 9, in addition to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, five more airports will begin accepting international travellers. They include:
- Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport
- Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport
- Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airpor
- Edmonton International Airport
“These airports, in cooperation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Transport Canada, are working to implement the measures necessary to safely welcome international passengers as soon as possible after August 9, as conditions dictate,” PHAC added.
Pre-arrival testing is still in place, the feds say, but as of August 9, mandatory post-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers will be scrapped in favour of a random testing process.
Canada’s hotel quarantine system will be scrapped for all travellers on August 9.
The current Canada-U.S. border restrictions are set to expire on Wednesday but will be rolled over until the new changes take effect on August 9.
Asked in Washington if the U.S. would reciprocate, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “We are continuing to review our travel restrictions. Any decisions about resuming travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts. … I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention.”
Canada’s borders have been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020.
“Canadians’ safety and security always come first. With rising vaccination rates and fewer cases in Canada, we can begin to safely ease border measures,” Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu said.
“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.”
Also as of August 9, children aged 12 and under who are travelling with fully vaccinated parents do not need to quarantine for two weeks or 14 days. They will, however, face other health restrictions, including avoiding group settings such as schools, camps, daycares, and indoor tourist attractions where large groups of people are gathering.
The same exemption is expected for international travellers when those restrictions lift in September.
Under the Quarantine Act, the feds say a person that submits false information on vaccination status could be liable to a fine of up to $750,000 or six months imprisonment or both, or prosecution under the Criminal Code (forgery).
During a call with the country’s premiers last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government had been planning to allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada by mid-August.
He also said if the vaccination rate remains on its current trajectory, fully vaccinated travellers from around the globe could be allowed into the country by early September.
Pressure has been mounting on the federal government to continue to ease the restrictions at the border, which have been in effect since March of last year.
A coalition of frustrated legislators from across the U.S. Midwest passed a formal resolution last week asking the White House and Canada’s government to reopen the border to fully vaccinated travellers.
On top of this, travel and tourism groups have said they’re hoping to see an easing of testing measures, relaxing quarantine rules for children who are not eligible to receive a vaccine, and for more airports to begin accepting international flights.
While Canada continues to see a low number of new COVID-19 infections, many U.S. states are seeing a surge in cases sparked by the more transmissible Delta variant and lower vaccination rates.
Canada has now fully vaccinated a larger portion of its population than the U.S. Fifty-five per cent of Americans were at least partially vaccinated as of Friday, with 48 per cent fully vaccinated.
Canada’s vaccine rate is nearing 80 per cent among residents 12 and older, including more than half of the eligible population who are now fully vaccinated.
The federal government is expecting to receive about 7.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week, bringing the total delivered above 60 million.
As of two weeks ago, fully vaccinated international travellers returning to Canada can forego a 14-day quarantine upon re-entry, including the government-authorized hotel stay.
Opposition parties remain critical of the Trudeau government’s approach to the border as the Conservatives have been asking for the metrics for a safe border reopening.
“It remains unclear what those metrics are and why they could not be shared with the business community well in advance of this announcement,” says Shannon Stubbs, Conservative MP and Public Safety critic.
Canadians are currently still being urged to avoid any non-essential travel.
With files from Rob Gillies of The Associated Press