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Canada will open the border to fully vaccinated Americans and permanent U.S. residents on August 9, the federal government says. Twice vaccinated travellers from other countries will be able to starting Sept. 7 if the health care and COVID-19 situation in Canada stays favourable.
The Trudeau government also is eliminating the controversial, three-night quarantine hotel policy for those arriving by air as of Aug. 9 at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Canadian government officials made the announcement today, providing an end date to a border closure that began way back in March of 2020. The current border closure order is set to expire on Wednesday, July 21 and will likely be extended to Aug. 9.
"We said we would take a gradual and progressive approach to opening the border, and that's what we're doing," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a press event in Brampton, Ontario on Monday.
Trudeau earlier had talked about getting 75% of Canadian adults fully vaccinated before opening the borders. But Health Minister Patty Hajdu noted on Monday that the border opening isn't for all Americans, just those with double vaccinations.
Hajdu said fully vaccinated travellers aren't a major health concernn. Some 63,000 fully vaccinated Canadians have come into the country since July 5, and less than 10 tested positive for COVID-19, she said.
According to Vaccine Tracker Canada, 79.87% of Canadians 12 and older have had one vaccine dose, while 56.95% have two doses.
The rules for Americans and permanent residents apply only to those who have received vaccines approved by the government of Canada and have had their vaccinations at least 14 days prior to arrival in Canada.
The government also says that random testing of people coming over the border will replace the current rules, which require everyone to be tested.
Officials also said that children ages 5-12 will no longer have to go into 14-day quarantine, but that special rules will apply (see below).
Ottawa will continue to require unvaccinated travellers to undergo Day 1 and Day 8 COVID-19 molecular tests, and complete a mandatory, 14-day quarantine, subject to limited exceptions
As well, entry into Canada will continue to be prohibited for U.S. travellers who are not fully vaccinated and for all other foreign nationals, unless they already meet an exemption set out in the Orders made under the Quarantine Act.
International flights into Canada are currently allowed only in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver airports. As of August 9, international passenger flights also will be allowed in Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Canada's Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, noted that the U.S. has yet to lift its ban on non-discretionary travel to the States by Canadians.
In addition, fully vaccinated travellers must also:
· 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. All travellers must still present a suitable quarantine plan, and be prepared to quarantine, should they not meet all of the conditions required to be exempt from quarantine.
They will also be required to follow public health measures in place, such as monitoring for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, wearing a mask when in public and keeping a copy of their vaccination documentation and test results - as well as a list of close contacts and locations visited - for 14 days after entry to Canada. For air travel, passengers continue to have to wear a mask in Canadian airports and on board flights to, from and within Canada, with few exceptions, and regardless of their vaccination status.
Fully vaccinated travellers coming into Canada will no longer need a post-arrival test unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test. This shift responds to the pandemic's evolution and will monitor prevalence in travellers. It will also identify new variants of concern entering Canada and provide intelligence, including vaccine effectiveness.
Due to the improving epidemiological situation in Canada, effective August 9, 2021, Transport Canada will remove the requirement for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to perform pre-board temperature screening of passengers on all domestic flights and international departures (including Transborder), as well as airport workers.
Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age and dependent children (due to a mental or physical condition) of fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to complete a 14-day quarantine, but must follow strict public health measures. This includes those travelling from the U.S for discretionary purposes. This means they can move around with their parents, but must avoid group setting such as camps or daycares during the first 14 days after their arrival.
Unvaccinated children will remain subject to the Day 1 and Day 8 testing requirements. Provinces and territories may have more stringent rules around people who have recently returned from travel. More details will be available in the coming days, officials said.
Starting August 9, 2021, air carriers will be verifying that the travellers coming to Canada have submitted their information digitally by using the ArriveCAN app or website before they board their flight. Discretionary travellers who are unable to show their ArriveCAN receipt - either on their mobile device or a printed copy - will not be allowed to board their flight to Canada, as they are ineligible to enter Canada. In addition to their ArriveCAN receipt, travellers should carry their actual vaccine certificate with them to show officials at the border entry point.
"While Canada continues to trend in the right direction, the epidemiological situation and vaccination coverage is not the same around the world," officials said in a press release. "The Government of Canada continues to advise Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada - international travel increases your risk of exposure to COVID-19 and its variants, as well as of spreading it to others. Border measures also remain subject to change as the epidemiological situation evolves. As Canada begins to welcome fully vaccinated travellers from the U.S., the Government of Canada will continue to monitor the situation and provide updated travel advice to Canadians.
Jim Byers was travel editor for five years at the Toronto Star, which has the largest travel section in North America. He has...
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