TORONTO — Starting Sept. 7, 2021 Canada will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from any country, for discretionary travel.
The eased restrictions will apply to fully vaccinated American travellers several weeks earlier, on Aug. 9, 2021, as a gradual first step to the border reopening ramp-up, and will include discretionary travel as well. The move is in recognition of “the many close ties between Canadians and Americans,” said the federal government in its border update.
The government announced the eased travel restrictions this morning in a technical briefing with government officials, followed by a press conference.
Officials were asked: If the eased rules will allow for entry into Canada by fully vaccinated American travellers starting Aug. 9, does that mean that fully vaccinated Canadians can in turn cross the border into the U.S. for non-essential travel?
The U.S. has not yet made an announcement about allowing non-essential travel on its side of the Canada-U.S. border, as noted today.
However with Canada and the U.S. staying aligned on border measures since the start of the pandemic, it seems reasonable to assume that reciprocity could be forthcoming.
And while Canada’s travel ban against all non-essential travel is still in place, the industry will be watching for that to change in the weeks ahead.
5 MORE AIRPORTS REOPENING AUG. 9, AND HOTEL QUARANTINE DROPPED FOR ALL TRAVELLERS
The new measures, announced today, will come into effect on Aug. 9 and Sept. 7 as scheduled, “provided that Canada’s COVID-19 epidemiology remains favourable”, i.e. provided that case numbers remain low.
All travellers must use the ArriveCAN (app or web portal), recently updated to include vaccination certification upload capability, to submit their travel information. Fully vaccinated travellers eligible to enter Canada and who meet specific criteria will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada. As announced on June 21, the quarantine requirement was already dropped for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents returning to Canada effective July 5.
Also effective Aug. 9, 2021, the list of Canadian airports accepting international flights – currently limited to Toronto Pearson, Montreal Trudeau, Calgary and Vancouver – will expand to include five more gateways: Halifax; Québec City; Ottawa; Winnipeg and Edmonton.
All 9 airports “are working to implement the measures necessary to safely welcome international passengers as soon as possible after August 9, as conditions dictate”, in cooperation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Transport Canada.
Full vaccination is based on vaccination with Government of Canada-accepted vaccines (i.e. vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen [Johnson & Johnson]) at least 14 days prior to entering Canada.
Also announced today, effective Aug. 9 the three-night government authorized hotel stay requirement will be eliminated for all travellers arriving by air. Fully vaccinated travellers who meet the requirements will be exempt from quarantine; however, all travellers must still provide a quarantine plan and be prepared to quarantine, in case it is determined at the border that they do not meet the necessary requirements.
PRE-ENTRY TESTING STILL NEEDED – BUT RANDOM TESTING ON ARRIVAL
All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, will still require a pre-entry COVID-19 molecular test result, the government said today.
However starting Aug. 9, fully vaccinated travellers will not need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test. The random testing system will be based on a new border testing surveillance program at airports and land border crossings. There are no changes to the mandatory testing requirements for unvaccinated travellers.
Travellers must provide COVID-19-related information electronically through ArriveCAN (app or web portal) including proof of vaccination prior to departing for Canada (subject to limited exceptions); meet the pre-entry testing requirements; be asymptomatic upon arrival; and have a paper or digital copy of their vaccination documentation in English or French (or certified translation, along with the original) ready to show a government official on request.
WHAT ABOUT UNVACCINATED KIDS?
Today’s briefing also tackled the issue of unvaccinated kids in regards to travel. So far officials are saying that the 14-day quarantine will be eliminated for unvaccinated kids under the age of 12. However at the same time, there will be public health limits on younger travellers looking to join group settings upon their return to Canada.
Officials first mentioned summer camps as one example of a group setting with public health limits for unvaccinated kids under 12 returning to Canada, and later mentioned daycares and schools.
More to come; stay tuned to travelweek.ca for more coverage.