Canada Set To Open Border To Fully Vaccinated Travellers

Canada will reopen its border to fully vaccinated travellers from the United States beginning at 12:01 am on Aug. 9.

Noting that this is “a first step,” the Canadian government said in an announcement today that it will allow entry to American citizens and permanent residents, who are currently residing in the United States, and have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada for non-essential travel on that date.

On Sept. 7, 2021 — provided that the domestic epidemiological situation remains favourable — the government also announced that it intends to open Canada’s borders to any fully vaccinated international travellers who have completed the full course of vaccination with a government of Canada-accepted vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering Canada and who meet specific entry requirements.

Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu noted that: “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.”

Minister Hadju also made a point of noting that as of July 19, 80% of Canadians had at least one vaccination and more that 50% of Canadians were fully vaccinated.

The government’s announcement points out that this preliminary step allows the government to fully operationalize the adjusted border measures ahead of Sept. 7, 2021, and recognizes the many close ties between Canadians and Americans.

It also said in today’s announcement that thanks to the hard work of Canadians, rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 cases, it is able to move forward with adjusted border measures.

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair said that government “recognizes that people have been anxiously awaiting a re-opening of the border to the world. We have been fully engaged with our American counterparts given the deep economic and family ties between our two countries.”

And Minister Blair added: “Today’s announcement is another big step in our approach to easing border measures which is guided by facts, scientific evidence and the advice of our public health experts.”

Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, Melanie Joly said that: “The easing of Canada’s border measures is welcome news for tourism businesses across the country, the thousands of Canadians employed by the sector and the communities who rely on it. It has been a challenging year as we balance the need to protect both the health of Canadians and our economy but tourism businesses have demonstrated incredible resilience.”

Minister Joly added: “Our government has been proud to be by their side since the beginning of this crisis and we will continue to be there as they prepare to begin to welcome vaccinated travellers from around the world to our beautiful shores.”

How It Works

Subject to limited exceptions, all travellers must use ArriveCAN (app or web portal) to submit their travel information. If they are eligible to enter Canada and meet specific criteria, fully vaccinated travellers will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

To further support these new measures, Transport Canada is expanding the scope of the existing Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that currently directs scheduled international commercial passenger flights into four Canadian Airports: Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport.

Effective Aug. 9, 2021, international flights carrying passengers will be permitted to land at the following five additional Canadian airports:

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

Minister of Transport Canada, Omar Alghabra observed that: “Thanks to the extraordinary commitment of Canadians to getting vaccinated and following public health advice, we are seeing improvement in the public health situation in Canada. As a result, today we announced new steps in our re-opening approach, including that international flights carrying passengers will be allowed to land at five more Canadian airports.”

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 Aug. 9, as conditions dictate.

Regardless of their vaccination status, all travellers will still require a pre-entry COVID-19 molecular test result.

However effective Aug. 9, 2021, the government is adjusting its post-arrival testing strategy for fully vaccinated travellers.

Using a new border testing surveillance program at airports and land border crossings, 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.

But it makes clear that there are no changes to the mandatory testing requirements for unvaccinated travellers.

And it adds that this strategy allows the Government of Canada to continue monitoring variants of concern in Canada and vaccine effectiveness.

The announcement continues that using these layers of protection, the government can monitor the COVID-19 situation in Canada, respond quickly to threats, and guide decisions on restricting international travel

Bye, Bye Hotel Quarantine

For the industry, there is still more good news as the government has announced that with the advent of increased vaccination rates in Canada, declining COVID-19 cases and reduced pressure on health care capacity, the three-night government authorized hotel stay requirement will be eliminated for all travellers arriving by air as of Aug. 9 at 12:01 A.M. EDT.

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.

Just A Reminder

And while Canada continues to trend in the right direction, the epidemiological situation and vaccination coverage is not the same around the world.

The government indicated that it 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 looks to welcome fully vaccinated travellers from the U.S., the federal government will continue to monitor the situation and provide updated travel advice to Canadians.

Dominic LeBlanc, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, pointed out that: “The health and safety of Canadians remains our top priority. Using a risk-based and measured approach to easing border measures will allow for non-essential international travellers who meet vaccination and other requirements to enter Canada.”

Minister LeBlanc continued: “Working collaboratively with provinces, territories, Indigenous partners, and others to encourage Canadians to get vaccinated and follow public health advice is enabling us to begin welcoming more travellers back to Canada. Our government will continue to work with Canadian and international partners to ensure the border reopening is done in a safe and responsible way.”