Border restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadians begin to loosen

As of today, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents are able to skip the 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Canada, but it remains unclear when the border restrictions will lift for other travellers.

Canadians and permanent residents who have complete doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada are now able to forgo the 14-day quarantine, which has been a requirement since March of last year.

Those same air travellers will also be allowed to skip out on the federal government’s requirement to stay in a government-approved hotel.

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This marks the first time Canadians and permanent residents will begin to have to show electronic proof of their COVID-19 vaccine. Those entering must electronically submit COVID-19-related information to the government’s ArriveCAN app before arriving, meet the pre- and on-arrival test requirements, be asymptomatic and have a suitable quarantine plan.

Travellers are required to submit a suitable quarantine plan “even if you are seeking the fully vaccinated exemption,” according to the government’s website.

The federal government has also said children who aren’t vaccinated will be able to go home with their parents, but must quarantine and follow testing rules. 

The Canada Border Services Agency said travellers arriving before 12:01 a.m. EDT on July 5 would not be eligible for the reduced public health measures. When the updated guidelines were first announced, the time had been 11:59 p.m. Monday, but that was changed.

Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease physician with Trillium Health Partners, said the risk calculus is at a point where easing the border restrictions makes sense.

“Before, all we talked about was COVID risk. But now that we’ve been able to defang the virus with vaccines — these vaccines are wonderful — we can now bring in a risk trade-off,” he said.

“We now know bringing in travellers can be done because the illness isn’t as severe.”

The travel restrictions between Canada and the United States preventing all non-essential trips, including tourism, are due to expire July 21.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it’s too soon to say how the rules might change by then.

“When we start reopening so Americans and others who are fully vaccinated can come into Canada will depend on how this goes — on the data we collect, on how we’re able to keep Canadians safe even as we make adjustments to the rules,” he said last week.

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